Canadian health Officials are recalling the Indian-made 'Neem' brand toothpaste found to contain high levels of diethylene glycol (DEG), a poisonous chemical used in antifreeze.
Consumers are cautioned to stop using the toothpaste, made by the Calcutta Chemical Co. Ltd., and return it to where it was sold.
The recall order follows previous warnings from Health Canada about Chinese toothpastes containing DEG.
Ingesting large amounts of diethylene glycol can damage the kidneys, heart, and nervous system, and in some cases cause death.
"Further to the Health Canada warning issued July 26, 2007, further testing on Neem Active Toothpaste with Calcium, manufactured by Calcutta Chemical Co. Ltd in India, has revealed that in addition to unacceptable levels of diethylene glycol (DEG), the product also contains high levels of harmful bacteria," Health Canada's press release said.
The Officials also note that while toothpaste is not meant to be swallowed, it is often swallowed by young children.
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.
Source: The Canadian Press