HARTFORD, Conn. - The State of Connecticut is demanding answers from the distributors and manufacturers of tainted toothpaste recently found on store shelves, and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal thinks consumers should be wary of certain Chinese products.
Blumenthal and Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell Jr. say the tainted tubes contained diethylene glycol, a chemical used in anti-freeze that can cause liver and kidney damage and ultimately death. Together, they sent letters to nine distributors and makers of the more than 700 tubes.
Counterfeit tubes of Colgate reportedly made in South Africa make up 430 of the seized tubes, while 275 containers of Chinese-made Dentakleen and Dentakleen Junior strawberry and blueberry flavors are also alleged to be contaminated with the chemical.
"We are stopping sales and seizing this toxic toothpaste -- holding retailers accountable for every tube on their shelves," Blumenthal said. "Our demand to Chinese manufacturers is for information necessary to track down and crack down on all these poisonous products.
"For toothpaste -- and other products -- 'Made in China' should be a warning label. Look for brands like Cooldent, Dr. Cool, Everfresh, Superdent and Oral Bright. Consumers can be our eyes and ears, helping to track down tainted tubes and crack down on sales -- reporting any suspicious products on shelves."
Blumenthal also used the opportunity to call out the federal government.
"These fatal frauds and fakes must be stopped (and) seized by states from store shelves if federal authorities fail to bar them at our shores," Blumenthal said.
So far, the DCP has found tubes in six discount and dollar stores in Hartford, West Hartford, Waterbury, Derby and North Branford.
The letters sent by Blumenthal and Farrell seek information regarding the number of tubes shipped to Connecticut, their lot and brand names, the current number of tubes returned since a federal recall and the names and addressees of any state resident who complained to the companies.
Importers or distributors sent the letter are TBS Asian Food of Danbury and MS USA Trading, Inc. of North Bergen, N.J. Manufacturers sent the letters are: Guangdong Well-known Ceramics Co., Ltd. of Guangzhan, China; Suzhou Qing Xin Daily Chemical Co., Ltd of Suzhou, China; Suzhou City Jinmao Daily Chemicals Co., Ltd. of Suzhou, China; Gold Credit International Trading Co. of Jiangu, China; Goldcredit International Enterprises Ltd. of Yangzhou, China; Shanghai Light Industrial Products Import & Export Corp. , Ltd. of Shanghai, China and Gold Credit International Trading Co., Ltd. of Yangzhou, China.
"My office will seek to lead a coalition of states acting jointly to protect consumers from defective and tainted imports because we cannot rely on federal authorities who are AWOL or asleep at the switch," Blumenthal added. "Federal oversight policy has been benign disregard or, more pointedly, purposeful neglect. They lack the will and wherewithal to safeguard our borders against counterfeit or contaminated products. States must fill the law enforcement gap left by federal inaction against Chinese authorities that are incompetent or corrupt, or both.
"Nearly 20 percent of all Chinese food and consumer products were found to be substandard or tainted, according to results of inspectors announced by the Chinese government itself last week."