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Chinese Authorities Admit Presence of Date-rape Chemical in Toy

by Gopalan on November 12, 2007 at 12:10 PM
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Chinese Authorities Admit Presence of Date-rape Chemical in Toy

A Chinese safety watchdog confirmed Saturday that toy beads recalled in the United States and Australia did contain a substance that could turn into "date-rape" drug when ingested.

The toys, coated with the industrial chemical 1,4-butanediol, were made by the Wangqi Product Factory in Shenzhen, a city just over the border from Hong Kong,, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine said in a statement.

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The chemical metabolizes into the "date-rape" drug gamma hydroxy butyrate, also known as GHB, which can cause breathing problems, loss of consciousness, seizures, drowsiness, coma and death.

Millions of units of the popular toys, which are sold as Aqua Dots in the United States and as Bindeez in Australia, were recalled in those countries as well as Britain, Malaysia, Singapore and elsewhere this past week after children began falling sick from swallowing the toy's bead-like parts.
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"The Shenzhen factory started to produce the bead toys after its trial products provided to the agent received no objection," the state-run Xinhua News Agency said.

At least nine children in the U.S. and three in Australia have fallen sick.

The Chinese government has already suspended exports of the toys, the safety watchdog said.

The agency also said it had asked the United States for information on the medical problems the children suffered because of the toys so that it could carry out more tests.

Companies worldwide have increasingly outsourced manufacturing, often choosing Chinese factories for their cost and quality. But heated competition among factories and the rising cost of labor, land and fuel have sometimes put pressure on profits, causing some producers to cut corners.

In the latest case, the Aqua Dots or Bindeez were supposed to have been coated with nontoxic 1,5-pentanediol, a chemical commonly used in computer printer ink. But that chemical generally sells for three or four times the price of the toxic compound found on the tainted toys, 1,4-butanediol, news agency AP reports.

Source: Medindia
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