Tainted Chinese products keep surfacing
Herald and News 8/10/07
ATLANTA (AP) — Each week, prison guards brought Sherri Painter a fresh tube of SpringFresh toothpaste. She was OK with the spearmint taste, plus it was good at removing stains and cleaning shoes.
Then one day in June, guards told her to turn in her SpringFresh because it was among more than a dozen brands of Chinesemade toothpaste found to contain a poisonous chemical used in antifreeze.
Georgia off icials had stocked SpringFresh in 39 prisons and dozens of other state facilities. One tube was found to contain one of the highest concentrations of the poison in any toothpaste shipped to the U.S., according to the Food and Drug Administration.
A New Jersey company traced the shipping of the SpringFresh toothpaste, demonstrating how it followed an unchecked route from a Chinese factory to Painter’s prison cell.
Federal regulators did not look for the poison until they saw news reports about it being found in toothpaste in Panama, the Dominican Republic and Australia.
The manufacturer substituted toxic diethylene glycol — or DEG — for a more expensive sweetener.
The Chinese government did not see it as a hazard and let it pass through customs.
Serious illness unlikely
Experts say it’s unlikely that anyone — even a child — could ingest enough tainted toothpaste to become seriously ill. But the disagreement between Chinese and U.S. officials about the chemical reflects many of the issues in the U.S.-China import crisis.
C h i ne s e g o o d s now account for 60 percent of all consumer-product recalls in the United States.