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China's toothpaste contaminant has long, deadly, grisly history

Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 06/06/2007 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled



WASHINGTON – While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued consumer warnings to avoid using potentially deadly Chinese-made toothpaste, the Chinese government continued to deny there was any danger from the contaminant diethylene glycol – a solvent used in antifreeze that killed 107 Americans when it was introduced in an elixir 70 years ago.

The FDA yesterday urged consumers to check labels for toothpaste made in China – and throw them away.

The agency is concerned the products may contain “diethylene glycol,” also known as “diglycol” or “diglycol stearate.”

Though the FDA is not aware of any U.S. reports of poisonings from the toothpaste, 51 people died in Panama after using a cold medicine laced with DEG.

Nevertheless, China was still insisting yesterday the warnings by the FDA were “unscientific, irresponsible and contradictory.”

The FDA said the threat was especially acute for children, who might ingest more toothpaste accidentally than adults.

FDA has identified the following brands of toothpaste from China that contain DEG and are included in the import alert: Cooldent Fluoride; Cooldent Spearmint; Cooldent ICE; Dr. Cool, Everfresh Toothpaste; Superdent Toothpaste; Clean Rite Toothpaste; Oralmax Extreme; Oral Bright Fresh Spearmint Flavor; Bright Max Peppermint Flavor; ShiR Fresh Mint Fluoride Paste; DentaPro; DentaKleen; and DentaKleen Junior. Manufacturers of these products are: Goldcredit International Enterprises Limited; Goldcredit International Trading Company Limited; and Suzhou City Jinmao Daily Chemicals Company Limited. The products typically are sold at low-cost bargain retail outlets.

FDA inspectors identified and detained one shipment of toothpaste at the U.S. border, containing about 3 percent DEG by weight. In addition, FDA inspectors found and tested toothpaste products from China located at a distribution center and a retail store. They also found the toothpaste at two bargain retail stores, a Dollar Plus in Miami and a Todo A Peso in Puerto Rico.

The highest level found was between 3-4 percent by weight. The product at the retail store was not labeled as containing DEG but was found to contain the substance.

The Chinese chief of General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine insisted said that “up to 15.6 percent (of the chemical DEG) is safe for prolonged use.”

In 1937, a mass DEG poisoning is what gave the FDA the impetus to pre-approve all new drugs. The FDA allows DEG to be registered because it’s specifically registered for use in California, a state with an enhanced set of environmental health and well-being statutes. Most countries in Europe, Africa, and Asia have allowed zero DEG to be registered to be used for any specific product.

Many of the 107 who died in 1937 were young children. The chief pharmaceutical chemist who developed the additive for the S.E. Massengill Co. that introduced the sweet-tasting, raspberry-flavored red liquid syrup called Elizir Sulfanilamide committed suicide as a result of the tragedy.

In Panama, the Chinese-imported strawberry bubble gum Mr. Cool Junior toothpaste, has been found to contain more than 50 times the safety limit.

Companies that make brands previously found with DEG will have to prove the toothpaste is free of the chemical before it’s allowed into the U.S., the FDA said. Meanwhile, all other brands of Chinese-made toothpaste will be stopped for testing, something the FDA has been doing since May 23.

A slew of Chinese exports have recently been banned or turned away by U.S. inspectors, including wheat gluten tainted with the chemical melamine that has been blamed for dog and cat deaths in North America, monkfish that turned out to be toxic pufferfish, drug-laced frozen eel and juice made with unsafe color additives.

As WND reported earlier this week, China, the leading exporter of seafood to the U.S., is raising most of its fish products in water contaminated with raw sewage and compensating by using dangerous drugs and chemicals, many of which are banned by the FDA.

The stunning news followed WND’s report last week that FDA inspectors report tainted food imports from China are being rejected with increasing frequency because they are filthy, are contaminated with pesticides and tainted with carcinogens, bacteria and banned drugs.

China has consistently topped the list of countries whose products were refused by the FDA – and that list includes many countries, including Mexico and Canada, who export far more food products to the U.S. than China.

While less than half of Asia has access to sewage treatment plants, aquaculture – the raising of seafood products – has become big business on the continent, especially in China.

In China, No. 1 in aquaculture in the world, 3.7 billion tons of sewage is discharged into rivers, lakes and coastal water – some of which are used by the industry. Only 45 percent of China has any sewage-treatment facilities, putting the country behind the rest of Asia.



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