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Users of Cooldent toothpaste warned

OW Staff | 3/4/2009, 5 p.m.

Los Angeles, CA -- Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, the City's chief prosecutor, announced Friday that his office has secured a conviction against Selective Imports Corporation (SIC), for importation of nearly 80,000 tubes of toothpaste from China which contain the poisonous chemical diethylene glycol (DEG), also known as diglycol--a substance banned from entering the United States in certain products.

Selective Imports, the importer of the toothpaste from China, pled no contest to one count of violating the Health and Safety Code for unlawfully selling any drug or drug products that are adulterated. The corporation will be placed on three years of probation and has been ordered to strictly follow U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines for recall, correction and removal of any banned product imported into the country. The company has also agreed to donate $33,000 to a local non-profit organization, in the city of Los Angeles, as a result of the violation.

The case against co-defendant Vernon Sales was diverted for one year pending its adherence to FDA's protocol on product recall and a charitable donation of $10,000 to a non-profit organization focusing on children's health and education.

In May 2007, the FDA initiated an investigation after authorities were alerted to the importation of 74,000 tubes of "Cooldent" toothpaste from China into Long Beach. The toothpaste had been flagged for immediate impound after a similar shipment of the product to Panama by the same Chinese manufacturer was previously discovered to contain DEG.

Working with the FDA, the City Attorney caused the impounded toothpaste to be safely destroyed.

In the course of the FDA investigation, it was discovered that between December 2005 and May 2007, approximately 78,336 tubes of Spearmint-flavored "Cooldent" toothpaste were sold by the SIC to distributors across the country. Quantities of the toothpaste were purchased by Vernon Sales, Inc. (VS), which resold some of the toothpaste to stores and businesses located in the City of Los Angeles.

Investigators believe SIC and VS, from March to April 2007, distributed 480 tubes of "Cooldent" toothpaste containing DEG to stores and businesses in the City of Los Angeles - most of which was placed on store shelves for purchase by the public.

In addition to its common use in antifreeze and as a solvent, diethylene glycol is used in China as a thickening agent substitute for glycerin, a sweetener used in cough syrup and toothpaste. The use of DEG in toothpaste and cough syrup is strictly prohibited by the FDA as there are potential risks of toxicity and injury from chronic exposure in certain populations including children and individuals with kidney or liver disease.

The FDA suggests that consumers with this product type; "Cooldent" name brand, manufactured by Goldcredit International Enterprises from China, should call (800) 332-1088 number and then return these products to the stores from which they were purchased. For additional information, including a list of recalled products, consumers are asked to visit the FDA's website on DEG in toothpaste from China at www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/toothpaste.html.