U.S. seizes tainted toothpaste from China

WASHINGTON Fri Jun 1, 2007 4:39pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Consumers have been warned to avoid any toothpaste made in China after inspectors found a poisonous chemical in toothpaste seized at the border and sold at two stores, U.S. health officials said on Friday.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began scrutinizing toothpaste imported from China last week after similar products in Latin America were found to contain diethylene glycol, or DEG, often found in solvents and antifreeze.

The FDA identified products by Goldcredit International Enterprises Ltd., Goldcredit International Trading Co. Ltd., and Suzhou City Jinmao Daily Chemicals Co. Ltd as containing

DEG.

Brands include Cooldent, Clean Rite and Oralmax and are usually found at discount retailers such as so-called dollar stores, the agency said. No major brands are affected.

"Although FDA is not aware of any U.S. reports of poisonings from toothpaste containing DEG, the agency is concerned about chronic exposure to DEG" especially in children and those with kidney or liver disease, said Deborah Autor, director of the FDA's Office of Compliance in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

DEG-contaminated toothpaste has been seized in Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Panama and Nicaragua. It was also found in cough syrup in Panama that led to the deaths of at least 100 people last year.

The chemical is inappropriately used as a inexpensive sweetener and thickening agent, and does not belong in toothpaste, Autor said.

The FDA issued its alert after seizing a batch of Cooldent toothpaste found to contain 3 percent DEG. Inspectors also found DEG-containing toothpaste at a Dollar Plus store in Miami and at a store called Todo a Peso in Puerto Rico, Autor said.

Goldcredit International Enterprises is a unit of Jiangsu Xingda Stationery Group, a manufacturer of glue and office supplies. Suzhou City Jinmao Daily Chemicals also makes soap and pet products.

(Additional reporting by Lisa Richwine and Julie Vorman)

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