Hong Kong on Monday warned the public to stop using three brands of toothpaste containing a potentially dangerous industrial chemical. The customs department said samples contained diethylene glycol (DEG), which prompted an outcry when it was discovered in exports of Chinese toothpaste to Panama.
The United States has started inspecting Chinese toothpaste imports and Singapore has banned three Chinese brands. The customs department said the three brands, which are believed to come from China, were "suspected of being unsafe for daily use." "The customs and excise department had approached the sole agents of the toothpaste of the three brands concerned, requiring them to stop supplying the toothpaste concerned," a customs spokesman said in a statement.
"They (the companies) also undertook to recall them from the market," he added. The US Food and Drug Administration says DEG is used in anti-freeze and as a solvent. It says it poses a "low but meaningful" risk to children and people with kidney or liver disease.
An official here said the customs department tested the toothpaste after hearing the reports from Panama, which China has said it is investigating. The safety fears 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.