More tainted toothpaste shows up in Illinois
Chicago, after authorities there said they had confiscated over
1,000 tubes of toothpaste, much of it thought to be illegal
counterfeit and gray market products.
The authorities said that the products, including fake Colgate-branded toothpaste, were confiscated during a two-week blitz by retail and consumer officers who had been alerted to the possibility of toothpastes containing diethylene glycol (DEG), a compound used in anti-freeze. The alert over fake toothpaste imports was triggered following the fatal poisoning of a number of people who took cough medicine tainted with the chemical in the Dominican Republic, earlier this year. Action by the Dominican Republic authorities then led to a number of discrepancies over fake toothpastes tainted with the chemical, which has triggered the identification of numerous tainted products worldwide, mainly fake or budget toothpastes manufactured in China. The Chicago authorities said they identified counterfeit toothpaste for sale in leading budget retailers throughout the city. Their inspections took in over 240 retail outlets and led to 12 citations for breaking retail regulations. Following the investigation the Chicago city authorities have issued a warning to consumers to be especially aware of tubes of Colgate toothpaste that state on the packaging 'made in South Africa'. Indeed, Colgate has confirmed that it does not officially import toothpaste that is made in South Africa, into the United States. This follows warnings given by four US states over counterfeit toothpastes that were also identified with labels that stated 'made in South Africa', which came to light last month. Likewise, consumers were also told to look out for tubes of toothpaste labeled as 5oz or 100ml, as Colgate does not make any toothpaste products of this size. Illinois state authorities decided to initiate the investigation after suspect toothpaste showed up all over the United States, labeled as 'made in China.' Although no poisonings have been reported in the US from toothpaste to date, the FDA said that it has identified several toothpaste brands from China known to contain the chemical and has included them on an import alert. The manufacturers of these products were identified as Goldcredit International Enterprises Limited, Goldcredit International Trading Company Limited, and Suzhou City Jinmao Daily Chemicals Company Limited. China is the single largest producer of counterfeit goods, accounting for a massive 80 percent of items seized at the EU Borders in 2006. The focus on China intensified in March this year, after the FDA found pet food ingredients from China contained the chemical melamine, a chemical that led to the deaths of hundreds of pet cats and dogs in the US. In response to the crisis, governments are now putting pressure on source countries to stamp out the trade in counterfeit goods. In a recent report, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) called for clamp down on companies involved in the practice, estimating that the trade in counterfeit and pirated good totaled around $200bn in 2005. John Dryden, OECD's deputy director, criticized the worldwide repercussions of the trade. "It is pervasive, it involves some pretty unsavory and ruthless characters, and it has serious implications for health, safety, living standards and jobs. It is also a major disincentive to invent and innovate," he said. In a move to try and allay consumer fears, the Chinese government announced this week a five-year plan to enforce stricter controls over manufacturing. "Ensuring food and pharmaceutical safety for the public must be the starting point and destination of all work," a government website stated. "Monitoring and administering food and pharmaceutical safety must be at the very heart of grassroots and base work."