Import Alert: Put Down That ToothAntifreeze Paste!

Taking a hiatus from my hiatus, I’m popping into the blogosphere for a moment to urge everyone to look closely at his toothpaste tube this morning: if there is any mention of it having been imported from China–or if it’s one of the brands specifically mentioned by the FDA in their latest warning–you’re strongly advised to avoid using it, as it may contain diethylene glycol (also known as antifreeze):

Consumers were advised yesterday to discard all toothpaste made in China after federal health officials said they found Chinese-made toothpaste containing a poison used in some antifreeze in three locations: Miami, the Port of Los Angeles and Puerto Rico.

Although there are no reports of anyone being harmed by the toothpaste, the Food and Drug Administration warned that the Chinese products had a “low but meaningful risk of toxicity and injury” to children and people with kidney or liver disease.

The United States is the seventh country to find tainted Chinese toothpaste within its borders in recent weeks.

Agency officials said they found toothpaste containing a small amount of diethylene glycol, a sweet, syrupy poison, at a Dollar Plus retail store in Miami, sold under the brand name ShiR Fresh Mint Fluoride Paste. The F.D.A. also identified nine other brands of Chinese toothpaste that contain diethylene glycol, some with concentrations of 3 percent to 4 percent.

You can see the entire list of adulterated (and potentially-adulterated) brands here.

Adding insult to injury (let us not forget the countless number of human beings around the world, many of them children, who died after ingesting diethylene glycol-adulterated cough syryp) is the cavalier attitude of Chinese officials. Here, as they say, is the money quote:

Over the years, counterfeiters have found it profitable to substitute diethylene glycol for its chemical cousin, glycerin, which is usually more expensive. Glycerin is a safe additive commonly found in food, drugs and household products. In toothpaste, glycerin is used as a thickening agent.

Chinese regulators said Thursday that their investigation of toothpaste manufacturers there had found they had done nothing wrong. Chinese officials also said that while small amounts of diethylene glycol could be safely used in toothpaste, new controls would be imposed on its use in toothpaste.

The F.D.A. said diethylene glycol in any amount was not suitable for use in toothpaste.

Question: why does the United States afford Most Favored Nation trading status to a country that not only places a lower value on safety–indeed, on human life–than we do, but is quite bald-faced in its admission of same? Chinese officials also said that while small amounts of diethylene glycol could be safely used in toothpaste…(!) I mean, I’d much rather see our government get tough on all imports from all countries, requiring that, at a minimum, U.S. health and safety standards be met–and instituting severe penalties, up to and including full-on embargoes, if necessary–than have to witness the kind of slavish genuflection we’ve been seeing America perform at the altar of free trade lo these recent months.

Antifreeze in toothpaste? For the love of all that is sane, FDA, put a stop to all Chinese food and drug imports until such time as that nation’s officials can demonstrate, provably, that they take health and safety standards seriously–at least as seriously as American families, if not American regulatory agencies, are taking all this.

Also at litbrit.

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20 Comments

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20 responses to “Import Alert: Put Down That ToothAntifreeze Paste!

  1. via

    It is amazing that the Chinese population can grow so rapidly, considering all the shit that is in their food chain!

  2. And, if anyone still wonders why these incidents and issues don’t get more play in our media and such, take a look at the brands listed by the FDA.

    They’re the cheap brands, bought by people who need to by cheap things. And those people don’t have a voice.

    Until this stuff shows up in the products and brands the better off use, nothing will happen.

  3. yes stephen, i think you are right.

  4. Well done Luv. Spot on. And nice to have you back if only momentarily.

    Hugs

  5. And, if anyone still wonders why these incidents and issues don’t get more play in our media and such, take a look at the brands listed by the FDA.

    They’re the cheap brands, bought by people who need to by cheap things. And those people don’t have a voice.

    Until this stuff shows up in the products and brands the better off use, nothing will happen.

    100% spot on!

  6. They’re the cheap brands, bought by people who need to by cheap things. And those people don’t have a voice.

    Absolutely true. These are brands you find at the dollar store (formerly dime store, for those of us over 30!) Well, I hereby promise to speak up on behalf of those who don’t have a voice in this, and to keep being a voice for them, as much as I’m able.

    It’s outrageous. And I am outraged. “A little bit of deadly antifreeze in your toothpaste is okay…” WTP????

  7. Bitty

    Question: why does the United States afford Most Favored Nation trading status to a country that not only places a lower value on safety–indeed, on human life–than we do, but is quite bald-faced in its admission of same?

    Answer: Because China is our own personal Visa card; we owe them practically our entire national debt. China could own us at any time. So we look away.

    Thanks, George.

  8. As I said when I wrote about this when the story first popped up in Latin America, China right now resembles Gilded Age America a lot to me–all resources dedicated to the economic engine, and fuck the rest. That’s why I’ve been sickened by Nicholas Kristof’s paeans to the Chinese economy in his OpEds this week–until there’s some evidence that the government is willing to put worker and consumer safety higher on the list of priorities, I think US consumers are in real danger. When I wrote about it last time, I asked what I thought was a hyperbolic question–Are the Chinese trying to poison us? Now I’m not so sure the question was hyperbole.

  9. welcome to the wonderful world of globalization. it’s not just some evil chinese bastards that are making money off of this deal. the insult chain is long and after two or three links becomes american. the chinese bastards could not have made these sales without plenty of american bastards out for a quick buck.

  10. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    What Bitty said. Thanks to years of right-wing borrow-and-squander economic policies, the Chinese now own our genitals, and not in any happy fun way, either. What in sulfuric hell is “conservative” about budget deficits the size of fooking Joopiter [hi, Mr. S] and messianic foreign policies that shatter our armed forces? Those of my fellow non-elite white USAmericans who have been voting “conservative” all these years serve as a monument to Mencken’s quip that “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it, good and hard.” >:O

  11. Tangential in a way: apparently the Chinese have the corner on the vitamin market these days. I was just reading this somewhere yesterday, but can’t remember where. (Consumer Reports, current print issue?) In a few years, they’ve grown to selling 90% of the Vitamin C in the US, for instance.

    Once that starts being examined, I’ll be curious to see what sort of junk they’ve been palming off at vitamin-prices in those bottles!

    Again, I’ll bet it’s 100% of the cheaper brands.

    I wonder whether this explains some of the counterintuitive research I’ve seen in recent years about how Vit E isn’t actually good for you, and the like. The dogma has always been that vitamins are vitamins are vitamins. Maybe not so much.

  12. Nik E Poo

    Whew!

    I never thought I’d be relieved to find out that my toothpaste comes from New Jersey.

  13. Nik E Poo

    And Thank You Litbrit!

  14. oddjob

    Answer: Because China is our own personal Visa card; we owe them practically our entire national debt. China could own us at any time. So we look away.

    Thanks, George.

    It isn’t just Shrub. This shit has been going down ever since his daddy was in office. Poppy Bush (so named when he was in high school – can you imagine???) was America’s first official representative to China, back during the Nixon and Ford years before we had official relations with the communist regime in Beijing. Ever since then Poppy’s had a serious hard-on about normalizing relations with the communist thugs there.

    The Chinese first reaped the fruit of that during the Tiananmen Square massacre; now we are reaping the fruit of that hard-on.

  15. oddjob

    Oh, and THANK YOU, librit!!

  16. oddjob

    Are the Chinese trying to poison us? Now I’m not so sure the question was hyperbole.

    I doubt that it’s overt. My guess is that they are indeed like Gilded Age American merchants. All hail the free market and fuck the consequences!

    Seriously, how is this different than what one reads in chapter 14 of The Jungle (except it isn’t about sausages)?

  17. Pingback: {yet another benefit of globalization and free trade!} at The Republic of Dogs

  18. jahf

    I never thought I’d be relieved to find out that my toothpaste comes from New Jersey.

    How do you know that your toothpaste is from New Jersey? Because it says so on the box? Do you think that people who deliberately put lethal substitute ingredients into manufactured consumables in order to make more money would be any more scrupulous about what is printed on the package?

  19. Excellent and chilling post, and lots of “dead right” comments.

    I posted something regarding getting our food supply closer to home over at my place.

  20. MR. Bill

    It’s precisely because we have no idea where the ingredients are coming from and must trust an FDA compromised by Rightwing/’freemarket’ idiocy that is so scary.

    And Litbrit, I got my guys into martial arts stuff when they got too stroppy. Is that an option? It cut down on the fighting, and gave them a sense of internal discipline. It beat my dad’s solution of endless farmwork…

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