Don’t Worry, That’s Just Bread Mold On Your Tampon

Normally, Danielle wouldn’t have pulled her Kotex tampon out of the applicator for inspection before using it. I mean, who does that? One happened to fall out of the applicator, though, and that’s when she saw them. The splotches of blackish mold. “Makes you wonder how many times things like this happen to tampons and we don’t have a clue,” she wrote. Um, yes.

She posted photos on her blog, along with the response that she received from a Kimberly-Clark representative when she e-mailed in the same photos. Their response, paraphrased: “don’t worry about that mysterious substance that you almost inserted into your vagina. It’s just bread mold.” Then they promised to send her coupons for more Kotex tampons. Thanks?

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Dear Danielle,

Thanks for contacting us about your experience with KOTEX SECURITY tampons. We are very sorry that you were disappointed with your recent purchase of our product.

We understand how distressing it can be to find mold on a product that is used for personal hygiene and apologize for your concern. In instances where it has been found, we conducted tests on the product involved and have found the mold to be a common environmental species that carries no health risk. The vegetative mold is similar in nature to mold on vegetables or in baked goods.

You can be confident that we are diligently reviewing our manufacturing process to ensure this problem does not recur. Because our customers and their well-being are very important to us, we want to assure you that the quality and safety of our products are our top priorities. We apply very rigorous procedures to our products to ensure that they are safe for their intended use.

With the hope that you will continue to use SECURITY tampons with confidence, we are sending you some coupons through the mail for your use on future purchases.

[redacted]
Consumer Services, Kimberly-Clark Corp.
Lead the world in essentials for a better life.

Danielle didn’t find this particularly comforting. The reply came quickly, and knowing that had a form letter ready to go for cases of tampon mold is a little unsettling. She noted on her blog:

Yeah, that’s real reassuring. I was grossed out in the first place and their response just makes it worse! Seems this is a fairly common problem … and that is a cause for serious concern. I doubt most people get as lucky as I did – I just so happened to accidentally expose the mold and I am so glad that I did! Most people wouldn’t be so fortunate.

Thanks for the coupons, Kotex, but I can confidently say I’ll never be purchasing any of your products ever again.

Then her blog post went viral. Readers wondered whether she had faked the mold with a Sharpie for attention, or stored the tampons in a damp cabinet. (Isn’t that why they’re sealed in little plastic wrappers?) At readers’ urging, she approached a local news outlet which plans to send the tampon for independent lab testing. But in the meantime, someone higher up at Kimberly-Clark noticed, and reached out.

Dear Danielle,

I just read your message to us on Facebook and I wanted to tell you that we are so sorry you had this experience! In [redacted]’s eagerness to get back to your e-mail right away, she unfortunately sent you incorrect information concerning this issue.

Nothing is more important to us than consumer safety. Any discoloration or abnormality with our tampons is extremely rare, and we want to do a full investigation to determine the source and follow-up with our manufacturing facility. So if you still have the tampon, can you please return it to us by using the prepaid mailing envelope we’re sending you?

We’d also really like to get on the phone with you and find out more to help us in our investigation. Please give us a call at [redacted] and ask for [redacted], or reply to this e-mail and give us your phone number and the best time to contact you.

Again, we are so sorry this happened and thank you so much for getting in touch with us and giving us the chance to help make sure this doesn’t happen again.

[redacted]
Account Executive
Consumer Services, Kimberly-Clark Corp.
Lead the world in essentials for a better life.

Kudos to this Kimberly-Clark employee for not using the phrase “taking it very seriously,” as companies shamed into responding tend to do. But it’s funny how it takes a few hundred thousand pageviews for a company to realize that a pat on the head and some coupons is not the best way to deal with a grossed-out customer.

While working on this post, I sent the link to a friend, who said that she’s received moldy tampons in the past. Ew. Tampon users, is this a common problem? If you’ve encountered similar mold, please weigh in.

The tale of the moldy tampon. [Parr For The Course] (Thanks, akbibliophile!)
Re : the overwhelming response to the moldy tampon. [Parr For The Course]