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US tests spark toothpaste toxin fears in China

(China Daily)

08:16, September 06, 2011

BEIJING - Concerns have resurfaced in China over the safety of toothpastes containing triclosan, a chemical that may lead to cancer, after the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started a new round of safety reviews.

Concerns have resurfaced among customers over the safety of toothpastes containing triclosan, a chemical that may lead to cancer. (China Daily Photo)

Toothpaste brands affected include Crest and Colgate.

P&G China said in a statement that only two Crest toothpaste brands sold in China - Crest Multi-Care and Crest Night-Time - contain triclosan and that the amounts are within the legal limit set by Chinese authorities in 2009, which is 0.3 percent of the total weight of the toothpaste.

Colgate-Palmolive China said in a statement that this year it had stopped production of Colgate Total, its only toothpaste with triclosan. That brand attracted only a small market share in China, the company said.

The Colgate-Palmolive statement did not link the decision to phase out the Total brand with health concerns about triclosan, a chemical used in other consumer products such as soaps.

Studies on laboratory animals have shown triclosan may alter hormone regulation and cause antibiotic resistance.

The FDA was to announce the results of its triclosan review in the spring of 2011, but it has delayed the findings until winter 2012.

The administration said the chemical is not currently known to be hazardous to humans and that more evidence is needed.

In 2005, use of the substance in consumer products prompted an international cancer scare when research by Peter Vikesland from Virginia Tech University found triclosan can react with chlorine in tap water and over long-time exposure produce the probable carcinogen chloroform.

Chinese consumers were deeply worried at that time about products containing triclosan.

China's leading quality watchdog looked into the case and admitted more time was needed to develop a safety standard based on sufficient research.

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