Chemical illegal in food, medicine

By JANE GARDNER

A CHEMICAL found in toothpaste taken off the shelves of a Northern Rivers supermarket chain on Thursday is illegal in food and medicine, according to a government authority.

The toothpaste, called Excel, was recalled from Farmer Charlies supermarkets after reports one of its main ingredients was responsible for hundreds of deaths overseas.

The poisonous chemical in question, called Diethylene Glycol, is illegal in food and medicine ? however certain toothpastes are not classified as either.

A spokesperson for the Therapeutic Goods Administration said they could not order a nation-wide recall of the product because it did not claim to have medical benefits, despite the fact it contained a substance banned in food.

"Toothpastes can be regulated as either cosmetics or medicines," she said.

"A toothpaste would be classed as a medicine if, for example, it claimed to relieve the pain of sensitive teeth. "It has to go beyond regular claims of preventing cavities. "No medicine containing diethylene glycol as an ingredient is approved for general sale in Australia."

Unfortunately, the Excel brand does not claim to do any more than prevent cavities, so it remains classed as a legal cosmetic.

The Excel brand toothpaste appears to have originated from a Chinese exporter, Goldcredit International Trading Co, which also exports plastics.

The company also exports a second brand of toothpaste called 'Mr Cool', which contains the same deadly chemical.

Senior lecturer in chemistry at Sydney's University of Technology, Harish Patney, said the 2.5 per cent level of Diethylene Glycol found in the toothpaste was dangerous to human health, despite it not being officially prohibited.



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