The dye is not banned for textile use in New Zealand or in Australia, where the two retailers are based.
However, experts say exposure to the dye should be minimised, as some of the properties derived from azo-colourants are considered hazardous.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Agency For Research on Cancer (IARC) have said some azo-colourants dyes contain carcinogens, which is a substance that is capable of causing cancer.
Not all azo-colourants dyes are hazardous, but there is the risk.
The Iconic is recalling seven different pairs of men’s pants and shorts because dye used in pocket linings may contain azo-colourants.
The discovery was made after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recently reviewed The Iconic’s products and found the shorts and pants contained the dye.
The pants and shorts affected are the ‘Mody Chino’ trousers in French navy, tan, sapphire, ox blood, navy and ‘Mody Chino’ shorts in ox blood and navy.
The Iconic recall letter says action is being taken out of extreme caution.
“Although the risk is low, any avoidable risk should be managed responsibly – that’s why we have issued a recall notice for these products,” it says.
The pants and shorts were sold between 25 May 2014 and 5 June 2015.
The Cotton On recall is for its women’s ‘Elly Skinny Jeans’ in dark blue.
The recall notice says the dye used for the jeans may have carcinogens and exposure to it should be minimised.
The jeans were sold in New Zealand stores from August 2014 to June 2015.
Customers who return the clothes to the two retailers will receive a full refund.
The Iconic is also offering customers a $15 store credit voucher for their cooperation.
This isn’t the first time Cotton On has come under fire for its jeans. It recalled men’s denim jeans last year as they may have had carcinogens in them, too.
A number of other retailers were a part of last year’s recall, including children’s clothes from Target, Myers and Just Jeans.
The dye was also found in bed sheets and pillowcases sold through Australian retailer Pillow Talk.
The dye isn’t recommended to be close to the skin for prolonged periods of time.