Feeds

Panama spits out 'poison' Chinese toothpaste

A brighter smile with diethylene glycol

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Two brands of Chinese-made toothpastes were last week pulled from shelves in Panama after authorities discovered they contained potentially-fatal diethylene glycol, AP reports.

Diethylene glycol is commonly used as a cheap substitute for glycerine, and in this case apparently to prevent the offending toothpastes from drying out.

In large doses it can be fatal, as attested by the deaths of around 50 people in Panama last year who drank a cough medicine which, instead of pharmaceutical grade glycerine, used diethylene glycol as the suspension agent.

In this case, however, the diethylene glycol was apparently clearly labelled on the "Excel" and "Mr Cool" toothpastes, supplied by the Hengxiang-based Danyang Chengshi Household Chemical Co. After a sharp-eyed customer spotted the offending ingredient, University of Panama experts confirmed it comprised around 2.5 per cent of the toothpastes - not considered enough to pose a health risk, but sufficient to provoke the powers that be to warn consumers off the products.

Danyang Chengshi Household Chemical Co's general manager Chen Yaozu confirmed to AP that his firm had exported toothpaste containing diethylene glycol to Panama, but said the chemical was "permitted under Chinese rules and was safe in small amounts". He added: "I can say I am very confident about our product's quality."

If Chen's confidence is justified, then he has nothing to fear from a Chinese probe aimed at cleaning up the image of the country's related export markets - valued at $30bn. An unnamed official at the Danyang branch of China's food and drug inspection agency "confirmed the investigation into the toothpaste suppliers, but gave no details".

The Panamanian toothpaste scare is just the latest in a long line of diethylene glycol-based health alerts. Back in 1937, the Elixir Sulfanilamide Incident claimed more than 100 lives in 15 US states, prompting the rapid introduction of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

In 1990 diethylene glycol killed 339 Bangladeshi children who took a paracetamol syrup containing contaminated glycerine, while a similar product did for 85 Haitian kids in 1995-6.

In case you were wondering just how nasty diethylene glycol can be, the Haitian cases were mostly characterised by "nonspecific febrile prodromal illness followed within two weeks by anuric renal failure, pancreatitis, hepatitis, and neurologic dysfunction progressing to coma". ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Most Americans doubt Big Bang, not too sure about evolution, climate change – survey
Science no match for religion, politics, business interests
So, just how do you say 'the mutt's nuts' in French?
Vital linguistic question interrupts LOHAN spaceplane mission
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
STEALTHY NANOROBOTS dress up as viruses, prepare to sneak into YOUR BODY
Cloaking techniques nicked from viruses tackle roadblocks on way to medical frontier
prev story

Whitepapers

Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.