Chinese toothpaste crisis continues

By Louise Prance

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Toothpaste products, European union

The Chinese oral care industry is being further impacted following
the news that the UK is now joining the list of countries
announcing that hazardous toothpaste products, believed to
originate from the country, are being found on the counterfeit
market.

Pharmaceutical maker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced yesterday that fake tubes of its Sensodyne toothpaste have been discovered containing DEG (diethylene glycol) - a substance used in antifreeze and solvents, according to the Guardian newspaper. The company stated that the fake products were being linked with China, who is in the midst of a product safety crisis following the recall of many toothpaste products originating from the country- with the US, Spain and Portugal all retracting products that are deemed a threat to public health. Counterfeit tubes of Sensodyne Original and Sensodye Mint were found to contain English and Arabic writing, with the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency releasing a press release yesterday stating: "Individuals with combined Arabic with English livery packs are advised to discard the pack and purchase replacement from authorised stockists". "Legitimate Sensodyne, labelled only in English and sourced from authorised suppliers is NOT defective and the public can continue to purchase and use these products with confidence".​ Earlier this week Spanish authorities instigated an EU-wide response to hazardous toothpaste products originating from China, with the announcement that it is to withdraw certain brands from the Spanish market. The recent EC announcements mean that Spain and the UK are the latest in a long line of countries worldwide to retract Chinese toothpaste products that have been deemed a threat to public health. As the Spanish alert was registered on the Commission's RAPEX system, an EU wide Rapid Alert System for non-food dangerous products, other member states are now formally obliged to take follow up action, and to inform the Commission about any action they have taken regarding the issue. Indeed, following the announcement both Italian and Portuguese authorities have made market checks, and recalled certain products, according to the European Commission. The move followed widespread concern across the US over the poisonous chemical in toothpastes, with the US Food and Drug Administration recently advising consumers to avoid buying any toothpaste labelled as made in China. Previous reports have stated that authorities in Panama, the Dominican Republic and Australia have found DEG, known to have been a source of a number of mass poisonings, most commonly in adulterated medicines. The FDA recently called for a block on all consignments of toothpaste at US borders until tests show that such imports are categorically safe. EU consumer commissioner Meglena Kuneva is due to travel to China at the end of the month as part of an on-going dialogue with the Chinese government to discuss a range of issues with the Chinese regulation authorities - in particular issues relating to product safety.

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