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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Potentially tainted toothpaste found on Massachusetts shelves

By Stephen Smith, Globe Staff

Massachusetts public-health authorities announced today that they have discovered tubes of toothpaste that may contain a dangerous chemical on store shelves in Boston and 11 other cities and towns.

The discovery comes as federal regulators report that some toothpaste made in China and elsewhere abroad contains diethylene glycol, a substance used in antifreeze. Long-term exposure to the chemical can cause kidney and liver problems.

The state Department of Public Health urged consumers not to use toothpaste falling into these categories:
-- If it is labeled "Made in China." The US Food and Drug Administration has identified a variety of brands made in China, including Cooldent, Dr. Cool, Everfresh Toothpaste, Superdent, and Oral Bright.
-- If is labeled as "Colgate" that is made in South Africa. Colgate officials have said their company does not import toothpaste from South Africa. The warning from health authorities does not apply to Colgate toothpaste made in the United States.
-- If the labeling is not in English.

Investigators from local health departments found about 160 tubes of toothpaste fitting those descriptions in shops in Amherst, Arlington, Boston, Cambridge, Dedham, Lawrence, Lowell, Malden, Somerville, Sturbridge, Wellesley, and West Springfield. It is not known whether any of the tubes contains diethylene glycol, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Health said.

The state agency has asked local health authorities to inspect stores to determine if they carry the potentially contaminated toothpaste and to ask shop owners to discard it.

Consumers with questions or concerns should contact their local board of health or the Food Protection Program at the state Department of Public Health, at 617-983-6712.

Posted by Karen Weintraub at 03:26 PM
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