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700 Tubes of Toothpaste Are Seized in Connecticut
By STACEY STOWE
HARTFORD , July 9 — More than 700 tubes of toothpaste containing a chemical used in some antifreeze products have been removed from 6 of 120 stores inspected since July 2, state inspectors said on Monday. but poison toothpaste isn't just for dollar stores anymore, turns out Georgia prisons and mental hospitals bought hundreds of thousands of the tubes and distributed it to their wards.
The chemical, diethylene glycol, has a sweet taste like its more expensive cousin, glycerin, and can cause liver and kidney damage. So far, no illnesses have been reported in Connecticut.
The federal Food and Drug Administration recalled toothpaste labeled Colgate last month and advised consumers to discard all Chinese-made toothpaste, regardless of the brand.
Inspectors from the state’s Department of Consumer Protection said they seized 430 tubes of a counterfeit Colgate toothpaste reportedly made in South Africa and 275 tubes of Chinese-made Dentakleen and the strawberry and blueberry flavors of Dentakleen Junior from stores in Hartford, West Hartford, Waterbury, Derby and North Branford. The varieties of the counterfeit Colgate brand, including maximum cavity protection, gel and triple action, are listed as tainted.
State officials said inspections would continue this week.
Last month, about 900,000 tubes of tainted toothpaste turned up in prisons and other state institutions, mostly in Georgia and North Carolina, and at some hospitals in South Carolina and Florida. The investigation in Connecticut was prompted by a call from a consumer who reported that the toothpaste was still on the shelves of some stores, despite the recall order.
The state’s attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, and the commissioner of the Consumer Protection Department, Jerry Farrell Jr., said that they had sent letters to nine distributors and makers of the toothpaste seeking the names of all state retailers who bought the products.
“Our demand to Chinese manufacturers is for information necessary to track down and crack down on all these poisonous products,” Mr. Blumenthal said in a statement released by his office on Monday.
Mr. Blumenthal, who said he is seeking to lead a coalition of states to protect consumers from defective or tainted products, called federal oversight policy on such imports one of “purposeful neglect.”
He advised consumers to avoid buying brands like Cooldent, Dr. Cool, Everfresh, Superdent and Oral Bright. The State Department of Consumer Protection’s Web site, www.ct.gov/dcp, has photographs of the products and lists the names and addresses of the stores that stocked the tainted toothpaste.
Mitul Patel, a clerk at the 99 Plus Store on Farmington Avenue here, one of the six stores where the toothpaste was found, said a state worker seized the toothpaste last week.
“I hadn’t sold any yet,” said Mr. Patel, standing behind the cash register on Monday afternoon. “He just came down and took it all away.”
A 22-year-old woman at the store said she had bought Colgate there, although she had not used it. “When I heard about it, I just threw it away,” she said, adding that she later discovered that it was not one of the counterfeit products.