In July, California-based company White and Blue Lion Inc. was forced to recall several shipments of ink after several bottles from in-home tattoo kits tested positive for bacterial contamination. Only one skin infection was directly linked to the company's contaminated ink, but the agency has received reports of infection cause by other similar products.
"Depending on where you are, it's possible no one is checking to make sure the artist is following safe practices or even knows what may be harmful to consumers," the FDA alert reads.
Consumer safety advocates have long warned that unsanitary conditions and dirty needles in tattoo parlors could breed infections like hepatitis, staph infections and worse, but this latest FDA warning suggests even clean conditions and sterilized needles can't stop contaminated ink from getting under the skin.
The contaminated ink can cause fever, shaking chills and sweats, and could be more severe on those with weakened immune systems.
"Tattooing poses a risk of infection to anyone, but the risk is particularly high for those with pre-existing heart or circulatory disease, diabetes or compromised immune systems," said to Linda Katz, director of FDA's Office of Cosmetics and Colors.