FDA announces tattoo ink recalls due to microorganism contamination

There have been a few times in my life that I thought about getting a tattoo. When I was doing my undergrad in molecular biology and genetics, I often talked about getting a double helix on my shoulder. I didn’t.

More recently I’ve thought about getting a digital thermometer on each of my forearms. I haven’t yet.

FDA’s announcement of multiple tattoo inks contaminated with microbes has caused me to take pause again. But, like with food recalls I’m left with as many questions than answers: what microbes? How did they get contaminated? Is this a GMP issue? 

The FDA has become aware of contaminated tattoo inks through its FY2018-2019 inspections of distributors and manufacturers, routine surveys of marketed tattoo inks, and subsequent microbiological analysis of sampled tattoo inks. The FDA has identified 6 tattoo inks contaminated with bacteria harmful to human health. The tattoo inks were manufactured or distributed by 4 firms inspected under an ongoing assignment.

The following tattoo inks have been recalled because they are contaminated with microorganisms:

Scalpaink SC, Scalpaink PA, and Scalpaink AL basic black tattoo inks manufactured by Scalp Aesthetics (all lots)
Dynamic Color – Black tattoo ink manufactured by Dynamic Color Inc  (lots 12024090 and 12026090)
Solid Ink-Diablo (red) tattoo ink manufactured by Color Art Inc. (dba Solid Ink) (dba Antone’s Ink) (lot 10.19.18)

 

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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is an associate professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.