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Toothpaste From China Recalled Again for DEG Contamination

Aug 14, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP, LLP

Toothpaste distributed in some luxury hotels is being recalled because it contains a chemical usually found in antifreeze.   This is the third time this summer that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued such a toothpaste recall.  As in the other incidents, this  toothpaste was manufactured in China.

Gilchrist & Soames is recalling 18-milliliter or 0.65 ounce tubes of toothpaste that bear the company’s name.  The faulty toothpastes were among complimentary toiletries distributed in luxury hotels.  Gilchrist & Soames said that some of the toothpaste had tested positive for diethylene glycol (DEG), a chemical used to thicken antifreeze.   

The toothpaste was manufactured in China.  Chinese companies are known to use DEG as a cheaper alternative to glycerin.  While glycerin and DEG do have similar properties, long-term exposure to DEG can cause liver or kidney damage.  Last month, the Chinese government said it was banning the use of the chemical in toothpaste.  But obviously, some contaminated toothpaste is still in circulation.

In June, the FDA warned consumers to avoid several brands of Chinese-made toothpaste because of potential DEG contamination.   At that time, Gilchrist and Soames’ toothpaste was not mentioned in the alert.  But as a precaution, the company tested some of its supply.  It was then that the DEG contamination was discovered.  The Gilchrist and Soames toothpaste was made by the Ming Fai Enterprises International Co.

Last week, Donnamax, Inc. of Brooklyn, New York recalled two brands of toothpaste because they contained DEG.  Included in that recall were 6.4 oz tubes of DentaPro brand Cavity Fighting Fluoride Toothpaste Spearmint Flavor and Bright Max Toothpastes.  The toothpastes were also manufactured in China.

Toothpaste is just one of several Chinese-made products recalled for defects this year.  Tires, pet food, fresh ginger and seafood imported from China have all been the subjects of recalls for shoddy design or contamination.   On August 1, Fisher-Price recalled more than one million toys made in China after they were found to contain high levels of lead.  And today, Mattel, Inc., the parent of Fisher-Price, announced that it was recalling more Chinese-made toys.  That recall affects millions of Polly Pocket, Barbie and other magnet play set where the magnets come loose and pose a hazard to children if swallowed.  Mattel is also recalling more than 200,000 Chinese-manufactured die cast metal toy cars that have high levels of lead.

Recently, China has made some efforts to crack down on shoddy manufacturing practices.  The country has drafted new laws, closed down factories and even arrested individuals responsible for defective products.  But the recalls keep coming, and it may be some time before American consumers regain trust in the “Made in China” label.


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