[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 24 May 2007, 10:36 GMT 11:36 UK
US checks toothpaste for toxins
A toothbrush
Toothpaste is the latest Chinese export to raise safety concerns
Health officials in the United States say they are checking all shipments of toothpaste imported from China for contamination with toxic chemicals.

Panama and the Dominican Republic have reported finding diethylene glycol, a chemical used in engine coolants, in toothpaste from China.

The toothpaste scare is the latest involving products from China.

Earlier this year, contaminated pet food ingredients killed a number of cats and dogs in North America.

The toxic chemical, melamine, was found in wheat gluten exports from China for use in pet food, prompting a recall of at least 100 pet food brands.

The tainted wheat gluten was even thought to have made its way into livestock feed.

Low-cost substitute

Cough syrup containing diethylene glycol originating from China killed more than 50 people in Panama last year.

The New York Times said a Chinese chemical maker had sold the industrial-grade chemical as glycerine, which is often used as a moistener in products from toothpaste to soap and cosmetics.

May 2007 China probes reports that contaminated toothpaste was sent to Central America
March 2007 Melamine is found in wheat gluten exports from China for use in pet food, prompting a recall of at least 100 pet food brands
Nov 2006 A dye farmers fed to ducks to make their eggs look fresher is found to contain cancer-causing properties and 5,000 ducks are culled
August 2006 About 40 people in Beijing contract meningitis after eating partially cooked snails at a chain of restaurants

Diethylene glycol is sometimes used as a low-cost substitute for glycerine and Chinese toothpaste makers have said small amounts of the chemical are harmless in toothpaste.

"We are going to be sampling and testing all shipments of toothpaste that come from China," said Doug Arbesfeld, a spokesman for the US Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA says China is the second-largest exporter of toothpaste to the US after Canada.

Food safety investigators in Panama said two brands of toothpaste were imported illegally from China through a free-trade zone.

Chinese officials say they are investigating the claims.

The Dominican Republic and Panama have pulled thousands of tubes of Chinese toothpaste brands Excel and Mr Cool from store shelves.

Beijing recently pledged to clean up its tainted food and drug industry after the series of safety scares. The subject was raised by the US in bilateral trade talks this week.

The former head of China's State Food and Drug Administration is facing trial, accused of taking large bribes to approve untested medicines.

China probes 'tainted' toothpaste
23 May 07 |  Asia-Pacific
China cracks down on food safety
09 May 07 |  Business
US lawsuit over 'pet food death'
21 Mar 07 |  Americas
China tightens net on fake drugs
09 Feb 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Nine killed by fake Chinese drug
22 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific