Japanese Importers Recall Tainted Chinese Toothpaste

Millions of Chinese toothpaste products recalled after finding they contained a chemical used in antifreeze.

TOKYO (AP) - Three Japanese importers have begun recalling millions of Chinese toothpaste products in Japan after finding a chemical used in antifreeze, officials said Wednesday.

The toothpaste products, which contained small amount of diethylene glycol, a chemical found in antifreeze, were all produced in different plants in China.

Soshin, a Tokyo-based cosmetics manufacturer and importer, began recalling about 620,000 toothpaste sets, sold to about 100 inns and hotels across Japan, said Tokyo Metropolitan government official Yasuaki Kawano.

There were no reports of any health damage from customers on the products, sold under brands of ''Twinkle Toothpaste'' and ''Powdered toothpaste for Children with a taste of strawberry,'' Kawano said, citing a report from Soshin.

The products, each in a small tube with a disposable toothbrush, contained 1.2 percent to 6.2 percent of diethylene glycol, or DEG, per tube, Kawano said. The chemical was not listed as among ingredients in the product, he said.

DEG is a thickening agent used in antifreeze, and is also used as a low-cost—and sometimes deadly—substitute for glycerin, a sweetener in many drugs.

In central Japan, Nihon Grande Champagne Co. is recalling about three million toothpaste sets, sold at about 80 hotels and inns around the country, said company spokeswoman Yoko Sugiyama.

Sold under the brand ''MTK Toothpaste,'' the products were found to contain three percent of DEG per set, Sigiyama said. There were no reports of damage or injuries from customers, she said.

Meanwhile, cosmetics maker Korai near Hiroshima in southwestern Japan is recalling about 1.3 million sets of ''Toothpaste'' imported from China after finding tiny amount of DEG, Kyodo News agency said. No health problems were reported, the agency said.

The recalls come in the wake of a Health Ministry order earlier this month for toothpaste manufacturers and importers to inspect their products following recent problems in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Two other Japanese companies have said recently that they were recalling hundreds of thousands of Chinese toothpaste products. There have been no reports of the products causing health problems, but the ministry has urged consumers to stop using them as a precaution.

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