Tattoo Ink, Needle Recall Points to Industry Issue

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Several tattoo inks and needles are under recall due to bacterial contamination. Recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lab tests revealed pathogenic bacteria in certain tattoo supplies, like ones sold in kits by companies like White & Blue Lion Inc.

This can lead to sepsis, an infection complication that can be life-threatening. "Extreme risks. I mean we're talking death. There's things out there that can kill you," says Scott Alphawolf Davis, a local tattoo artist who owns Body Creations.

So how do we know if these contaminated inks are being used locally?

"You can't there's no way to tell other than by the reaction that people have to it," says Davis.

The tattoo inks and needles under recall have been available for anyone to purchase online.

"Kids. Anyone with a credit card can buy tattoo equipment, any kind of inks, and generally they're going to buy the cheap stuff," adds Davis.

Davis says this is a problem occurring all around us.

"Everywhere. We have people coming in almost every week wanting to sell us their stuff online because they realize it's crap and they can't do anything with it, you know," says Davis.

20-year-old Mychael, has 25 tattoos. He says he selects where he gets them carefully.

"You definitely want to make sure you're comfortable with them. Them just being clean. Everything is clean. And I mainly just get tattoos from here," says Mychael. "We make sure everything stays clean. That's our number one thing. The inks that they're recalling right now are ones that we never use anyway," says Davis.

Davis says this recall points to a larger problem in the tattoo industry.

"There's no FDA regulation on tattoo inks, like I was telling you before. None whatsoever," explains Davis.

Here is a statement from the FDA: "At present there is no specific FDA regulatory requirement that tattoo inks be sterile; however, consumers can reduce the likelihood of experiencing infections by asking tattoo artists if the inks have been formulated or processed to ensure they are free from harmful pathogens."

One illness is reported as of today's date.

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