China bans toxic substance found in toothpaste

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Toothpaste, Diethylene glycol

China has recently announced a ban of diethylene glycol, the toxic
ingredient found in the widely banned toothpaste - representing one
of a number of moves attempting to reassure its export market.

Diethylene glycol (DEG), a coolant that is most often seen as an ingredient in antifreeze products, caused international scandal when it was found in Chinese toothpaste on the export market. China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine has announced a ban on the use of the ingredient in order to reassure its export market and to avoid unnecessary losses, however it reiterated its stance that the ingredient is safe in small quantities. The Administration stated that 'long-term use of toothpaste containing DEG in amounts less than 15.6 percent will not have a negative health impact on humans,'​ adding that 'currently there's no evidence to show that the use of DEG in toothpaste directly causes cases of poisoning in people… consumers should not be concerned.' ​ The announcement comes in response to worldwide moves to recall certain products with the FDA, calling for a block on all consignments of toothpaste at US borders until tests show that such imports are categorically safe. Similarly, earlier this month Spanish authorities instigated an EU-wide response to hazardous toothpaste products originating from China, on which other member states were obliged to take action, resulting in recalls from Italian and Portuguese markets. Furthermore, Malaysia has announced its plans to ban the import of food supplements, cosmetics and medicine from China, although Indonesia has announced its independence in the matter by stating that it will not ban such products. Although there have been no reported side effects from use of the DEG contaminated toothpaste, there have been reports of multiple deaths in Panama resulting from the ingestion of medicine containing DEG, also imported from China. The ban of the suspect chemical is one of a number of steps the Chinese government has taken in order to reassure its export markets, including the announcements of stricter rules for approving new drugs and the order to small food producers to clean up their acts. The announcements follow the execution last week of Zheng Xiaoyu the former head of the State Food and Drug Administration who was accused of accepting bribes for approving untested drugs, reputedly leading to multiple deaths.

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