These Toothpastes Can Kill

By: Sharon Bell

Before you brush your teeth, be sure to take a long hard look at the toothpaste you're using. You may be using a fake or tainted product that contains a toxic chemical.

This was revealed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that warned against some brands of imported toothpaste that contain diethylene glycol (DEG), a poisonous chemical used in antifreeze and as a solvent.

The FDA said the products contain DEG or diglycol which is also used in contaminated pharmaceutical preparations like cough syrup and acetaminophen syrup. These adulterated medicines have caused numerous deaths in South Africa, India, Nigeria, Argentina, Haiti, and Panama.

The FDA advised consumers to avoid the following toothpastes with DEG: Cooldent Fluoride, Cooldent Spearmint, Cooldent ICE, Dr. Cool, Everfresh Toothpaste, Superdent Toothpaste, Clean Rite Toothpaste, Oralmax Extreme, Oral Bright Fresh Spearmint Flavor, Bright Max Peppermint Flavor, ShiR Fresh Mint Fluoride Paste, DentaPro, DentaKleen, and DentaKleen Junior.

DEG is a clear, odorless liquid that is used as a solvent for resins, dyes, oils, and other organic compounds. It is also found in some hydraulic fluids and brake fluids. Because of its toxicity, it shouldn't be used in food and drugs.

But that is not the case in some countries where DEG is illegally used as counterfeit glycerin in some nations and sold internationally as a component of cough syrup, toothpaste, and mouthwash.

"Over the years, the poison has been loaded into all varieties of medicine - cough syrup, fever medication, injectable drugs - a result of counterfeiters who profit by substituting the sweet-tasting solvent for a safe, more expensive syrup, usually glycerin, commonly used in drugs, food, toothpaste and other products," according to Walt Bogdanich and Jake Hooker in The New York Times.

The syrupy poison is responsible for at least eight mass poisonings around the world in the past two decades. In 1996, 85 children died after taking paracetamol (acetaminophen) syrup laced with DEG. The same thing happened in 1990 to 339 children in Bangladesh who developed kidney failure as a result of paracetamol syrup contaminated with DEG.

"Panama is the most recent victim. In 2006, government officials there unwittingly mixed DEG into 260,000 bottles of cold medicine - with devastating results. Families have reported 365 deaths from the poison, 100 of which have been confirmed so far," Bogdanich and Hooker said.

In 2007, counterfeit Colgate toothpaste containing DEG caused several people in the United States and Spain to experience headaches and pain. The fake toothpastes had 6 percent DEG and were sold in small discount stores in Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Fake Sensodyne toothpaste sold in England also had this toxic chemical.

"Colgate-Palmolive says the counterfeit toothpaste can be easily recognized because it is labeled as 'Manufactured in South Africa.' Colgate does not import toothpaste into the United States from South Africa. In addition, the counterfeit packages examined so far have several misspellings including: 'isclinically,' 'SOUTH AFRLCA,' and 'South African Dental Assoxiation,'" said Miranda Hitti in WebMD Medical News.

Later hotel toiletry supplier Gilchrest & Soames issued a worldwide recall of its complimentary imported toothpaste after independent lab tests found traces of DEG in some samples.

The company supplied the toothpaste to certain hotels in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos Islands, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates.

The company asked the hotels to destroy the toothpastes immediately and told guests to throw them away in a sealed trash container so children or pets won't get them.

The good news is that no deaths from DEG-contaminated toothpastes have been reported in the United States at this time. To avoid trouble, stick to a product you've been using for years and read the label carefully.

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