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China Pledges Full Investigation into Tainted Toothpaste
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The Chinese government on Wednesday promised to release the findings of an investigation into an alleged "contaminated toothpaste" incident as soon as possible. About 50 tubes of toothpaste labeled "Excel" and "Mr. Cool" were pulled off the shelves of a store in Panama City and experts confirmed that 2.5 percent of the toothpaste was made up of the chemical diethylene glycol.

The government appointed directors from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, State Food and Drug Administration and the General Administration of Customs to create a taskforce to investigate the incident.

The investigators have begun work in Beijing and east China's Jiangsu Province, through garnering information from relevant enterprises and personnel, revealed the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

Last Wednesday the Ministry of Commerce passed swift new regulations imposing stringent limits on the import and export of toxin compounds and on their chemical composition.

The regulations state that all products comprised over 40 percent of the chemical compounds toluene, acetone, butanone and vitriol must undergo testing before receiving a trading license, a rule that also extends to products containing more than 10 percent of hydrochloric acid.

Although the Panama's Health Ministry Secretary General Francisco Sucre refuted that the level of diethylene glycol was dangerous, the ministry urged against public use of the products. The ministry warned that diethylene glycol is toxic and should not be used in dental products. It is also prohibited for use in cosmetics, foods and pharmaceuticals.

The Panama City store involved in the incident has been closed and local authorities are seeking to find out how the toothpaste entered the country.

(Xinhua News Agency May 24, 2007)

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