The contamination advisories are catching with Indian products now. Canadian authorities say tests on Neem Active Toothpaste with Calcium, manufactured by a firm in Calcutta, eastern India, showed it contained harmful bacteria in addition to diethylene glycol.
Health Canada on Friday last said the toothpaste manufactured by Calcutta Chemical Co. Ltd. in India posed serious health risks, particularly to children and people with weakened immune systems, if swallowed.
Possible side-effects of swallowing the bacteria include fever, urinary tract infection, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
The toothpaste has not been authorized for sale in Canada, it clarified.
Health Canada reminds consumers that toothpastes that have been approved for sale in Canada will contain either an eight-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN) or a Natural Product Number (NPN).
The federal agency had issued a warning in July itself, saying the product that was sold in Western and Atlantic Canada contained unsafe levels of diethylene glycol (DEG), a chemical used in antifreeze.
Ingesting large amounts of diethylene glycol can damage the kidneys, heart, and nervous system, and in some cases cause death.
DEG poisonings have previously been traced to counterfeiters who have used it as a cheap substitute for more expensive sweeteners.
In one of the most publicized cases of a mass DEG poisoning, more than 80 Haitian children died in 1995 and 1996 after ingesting diethylene glycol in cough syrup made in Haiti.
Last year, diethylene glycol poisoning was blamed in the deaths of at least 51 people in Panama. A Panamanian government laboratory had inadvertently mixed DEG into cough medicine. An investigation found the chemical originated from China and was in a falsely labelled shipment workers thought was glycerin.
Last month, police in Managua, Nicaragua seized more than 40,000 tubes of Chinese-made Dentamint toothpaste suspected of containing the chemical.