A Chinese toothpaste manufacturer mixing an industrial chemical found in anti-freeze into its products said Friday it had halted the use of the potentially dangerous substance.
Shanghai White Cat, makers of Maxam brand toothpaste and one of the financial hub's oldest companies, said in a statement released to the Shanghai stock exchange, it was longer using diethylene glycol, or DEG. The Shanghai-listed firm said the chemical, a thickening agent used in car anti-freeze, was commonly used in toothpaste production and at low levels was not harmful to people.
"Tests indicate that a low level of DEG is safe," the company said, insisting that consumers could safely use its products. The firm, which has been making toothpaste since 1912, said the levels of use of DEG met Chinese quality standards, arguing that countries had different criterion. The United States Food and Drug Administration says DEG is also used as a solvent.
It says it poses a "low but meaningful" risk to children and people with kidney or liver disease. On Monday Hong Kong authorities warned the public to stop using three brands of toothpaste containing DEG, including White Cat's Maxam and two other brands called Sanqi and Tianqi. The action was the latest after the United States, New Zealand, Singapore, Panama and several other Latin American and Caribbean countries issued recalls and warnings linked to Chinese toothpaste.
The safety fears have come amid a US government probe into the deaths of thousands of dogs and cats, believed to have eaten contaminated pet food imported from China.