China's consumer safety image takes another hit
More than 10,000 tubes of toothpaste made in Chinahave been removed from stores in the Dominican Republic because they contain a potentially deadly chemical.
Hundreds of health workers have been searching for brands Excel and Mr. Cool since Dominican authorities learned Friday that they are tainted by the chemical diethylene glycol, environmental health director Luis Felix Roa said Monday.
The shipments arrived from Panama, where last year medicines contaminated by diethylene glycol killed at least 51 people.
Panama also removed the toothpastes from stores last week, but said the chemical levels do not appear to be dangerous. Still, officials in both countries have advised consumers not to use the product.
Panamanian customs chief Daniel Delgado told officials that the toothpaste was manufactured in China, Dominican customs spokesman Abinader Fortunato said.
China's international image for food and drug safety has been tarnished in recent months with allegations that tainted ingredients from its companies ended up in products blamed for deaths in Panama, and for killing pets in Canada and the United States.
The contaminated toothpaste entered the Dominican Republic illegally in shipments registered as food for animals, the Health Department said.
The government advised neighbouring Haiti to watch for the toothpaste because some boxes contained writing in Haitian Creole.
Panama removed the toothpastes after a customer noticed their labels said they contained diethylene glycol.
Tests by experts at the University of Panama confirmed the toothpastes contained about a 2.5 per cent level of the chemical, a thickening agent often used as a low-cost substitute for glycerin.