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US 'Self-contradictory' over Toothpaste Scandal
2007/06/04

China announced on Saturday it was monitoring the US detainment of Chinese toothpastes from China while asking US authorities to shed more light on the facts in a rapid and proper manner.

An official with the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said that US importers had submitted the precise formulas of China's toothpaste exports to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prior to shipping and that the content level of diethylene glycol (DEG) were clearly indicated on the packaging.

"All the toothpastes were registered with the FDA and passed initial approval for US distribution, thus the FDA is now contradicting its earlier decision by warning consumers to avoid Chinese toothpastes and by seizing shipments thereof," said the official.

On June 1, the FDA issued a general warning to avoid Chinese-made toothpastes, coupled with an import alert to prevent DEG-tainted toothpaste from entering the US market.

The Chinese toothpaste exporters affected by the import alert are: 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, according to the FDA website.

FDA inspectors seized one shipment of toothpaste at the US border, which was found to contain around 3 percent of DEG. Further testing carried out on toothpaste found at at a distribution center and a retail store found DEG levels at no higher than 4 percent. 

In 2000, Chinese testing of 1,965 people that toothpaste with less than 15.6 percent of DEG was harmless to humans. It was added that so far, there have been no reports of people poisoned by DEG-containing toothpaste, a stance mirrored by a claim on the FDA's website which reads that "it is not aware of any US reports of poisonings from toothpaste containing DEG".

The official said the Chinese administration would increase controls on imports to the US after the FDA found melamine and related compounds in products intended for feed production use.

Responding to this issue, China has ordered quality control organizations at all levels to maintain close watch of this type of event and to take appropriate measures if necessary.

The safety of Chinese food and drug products has come under media attention of late after China blamed Panamanian traders for falsifying documents bearing the make-up of a Chinese chemical product that killed dozens of Panamanian people who ingested tainted cough syrup. China also stated the alleged toxic toothpaste imported from China to Panama met safety standards. It should be noted that for the past two years, the acceptance rate of Chinese food exports to the US has hovered around 99 percent, a fraction higher than the reverse.

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