June 02, 2007

Chinablogging--Toothpaste With Antifreeze

Poisoned toothpaste from China discovered at U.S. discount outlets:
Consumers were advised yesterday to discard all toothpaste made in China after federal health officials said they found Chinese-made toothpaste containing a poison used in some antifreeze in three locations: Miami, the Port of Los Angeles and Puerto Rico.

Although there are no reports of anyone being harmed by the toothpaste, the Food and Drug Administration warned that the Chinese products had a “low but meaningful risk of toxicity and injury” to children and people with kidney or liver disease.

The United States is the seventh country to find tainted Chinese toothpaste within its borders in recent weeks.

Agency officials said they found toothpaste containing a small amount of diethylene glycol, a sweet, syrupy poison, at a Dollar Plus retail store in Miami, sold under the brand name ShiR Fresh Mint Fluoride Paste. The F.D.A. also identified nine other brands of Chinese toothpaste that contain diethylene glycol, some with concentrations of 3 percent to 4 percent.

Previously, only a few brands had been identified by health officials around the world as containing diethylene glycol and all of them listed the chemical on the label.

But diethylene glycol was not listed on the label of the toothpaste found in the Miami store. Its presence was detected only because the F.D.A. began testing imported Chinese toothpaste last month. That precaution was prompted by the discovery in Latin America of tens of thousands of tubes of tainted toothpaste made in China.
Having just returned from China, this story is certainly disconcerting.

Why? When I last visited China, I used Chinese toothpaste and bottled water to brush my teeth. Though I did not get sick then, my sense of unease with Chinese food products' safety, raised most recently with the pet food contamination of the last few months, has certainly increased.

The Chinese are in business to make money--and cutting corners for production of manufactured goods will result in poor performance or product failure resulting in injury or death. Inserting poisonous fillers to pet food and toothpaste to cut costs won't do much to improve China's aspiring position as producer to the world.

"Made in China"--the new phrase for caveat emptor (buyer beware!).