Fact Check

RECALL: Walmart Pulls Essential Oil Spray Over Deadly Bacteria

Federal agencies were investigating four recent cases of melioidosis — an extremely rare but sometimes fatal infectious disease.

Published Oct 22, 2021

In October 2021, Walmart announced it was recalling 3,900 bottles of essential oil room spray after samples were found to contain a rare but deadly bacteria.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced on Oct. 22, 2021, that Walmart was recalling nearly 4,000 units of an essential oil room spray after testing revealed the presence of a rare but potentially deadly bacteria in samples.

The discovery of the bacteria, Burkholderia pseudomallei, stemmed from a federal investigation into four reported cases of melioidosis, a rare infectious disease, in Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota, and Texas. Two of those cases resulted in fatalities, including the death of a child. In a news release, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wrote that:

Laboratory testing at the [CDC] has identified the bacteria Burkholderia pseudomallei in an aromatherapy spray — the same type of bacteria that sickened four people in the United States earlier this year. The spray, “Better Homes & Gardens Lavender & Chamomile Essential Oil Infused Aromatherapy Room Spray with Gemstones,” was found Oct. 6 in the home of a Georgia resident who became ill with melioidosis in late July. CDC is continuing testing to see if the genetic fingerprint of the bacteria in the bottle matches those of the bacteria identified in the four patients...

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) added:

The aromatherapy room spray was sold at about 55 Walmart stores nationwide and online at walmart.com from February 2021 through October 2021 for about $4. “Better Homes and Gardens Aromatherapy,” is printed on the label on the front of the 5-ounce glass bottle. The aromatherapy was sold with a pump spray nozzle in the following scents and product numbers:

84140411420 Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) Gem Room Spray Lavender & Chamomile

84140411421 Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) Gem Room Spray Lemon and Mandarin

84140411422 Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) Gem Room Spray Lavender  

84140411423 Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) Gem Room Spray Peppermint

84140411424 Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) Gem Room Spray Lime & Eucalyptus

84140411425 Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) Gem Room Spray Sandalwood and Vanilla

According to the CDC, melioidosis carries a variety of symptoms, ranging from fever and ulcers or abscesses on the skin to coughing and breathing problems and muscle or joint paint, or even brain and central nervous system infection.

Melioidosis is most commonly observed in Asia and Australia, but on average, around a dozen cases are reported in the U.S. each year. It is typically spread through direct contact with contaminated water or soil. According to the CPSC, the room spray recalled by Walmart in October 2021 was made in India.

The CPSC has advised anyone in possession of the spray in question not to dispose of it, but rather to carefully place it in two zip lock plastic bags, contained in a cardboard box, and return it to any Walmart store in exchange for a full refund. Consumers are advised to wash and dry any sheets or linens that may have been exposed to the spray, and to thoroughly wipe down any potentially contaminated surfaces.


“CDC Newsroom.” CDC, 1 Jan. 2016, https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/p1022-aromatherapy-bacteria.html.
Risk of Exposure | Melioidosis | CDC. 30 June 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/melioidosis/exposure/index.html.
Signs and Symptoms | Melioidosis | CDC. 29 June 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/melioidosis/symptoms/index.html.
Transmission | Melioidosis | CDC. 30 June 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/melioidosis/transmission/index.html.
“Walmart Recalls Better Homes and Gardens Essential Oil Infused Aromatherapy Room Spray with Gemstones Due to Rare and Dangerous Bacteria; Two Deaths Investigated.” U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2022/Walmart-Recalls-Better-Homes-and-Gardens-Essential-Oil-Infused-Aromatherapy-Room-Spray-with-Gemstones-Due-to-Rare-and-Dangerous-Bacteria-Two-Deaths-Investigated. Accessed 22 Oct. 2021.

Dan Mac Guill is a former writer for Snopes.