Nigeria to destroy all foreign-made toothpaste

2007 07 16 11 33 13 706

LAGOS (Reuters Health) Aug 17 Nigeria has asked retailers to hand over for destruction all imported toothpaste on their shelves after its food and drugs watchdog said it had discovered a harmful substance in a Chinese-made brand.

The order followed a spate of scares in the United States about Chinese products, including seafood tainted with antibiotics, and toothpaste and animal food ingredients containing toxic chemicals. The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration (NAFDAC) said it had found diethyl glycol--an anti-freezing agent which can damage the kidney and liver--in Colgate toothpaste.

"The dangerous toothpastes include those manufactured in China and all brands of Colgate toothpaste," the agency said in a statement obtained on Friday, without saying where the latter product came from.

The agency said it would punish dealers who did not dispose of all foreign-made toothpaste because it was not registered for use in Nigeria and its safety could not be guaranteed.

"All importers, distributors and marketers of imported toothpastes are directed to submit them to the nearest NAFDAC office for destruction or face serious sanctions," the agency said.

No one is known to have fallen ill after using foreign-made toothpaste in Africa's most populous country of 140 million people, where foreign goods are a status symbol.

Africa's top oil producer, Nigeria was a dumping ground for counterfeit products, especially drugs from Asia that are usually ineffective and often fatal, until NAFDAC began a massive crackdown on counterfeit products in 2001.

The agency has since received plaudits for reducing the volume of substandard drugs and food items in Nigeria's vast and unregulated market.

Tainted products from China have rattled consumers round the world in recent weeks and Mattel Inc., the largest U.S. toy company, has recalled about 20 million Chinese-made toys because of the danger from small magnets which may become detached and lead paint.

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