More toothpastes recalled due to chemicals

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More toothpastes recalled due to chemicals

The government on Friday confirmed 149 additional toothpaste products from 10 Korean manufacturers contained potentially deadly chemicals, which could lead to massive recalls.

The discovery comes a day after the government pledged to roll out an extensive inspection of products released by 68 additional toothpaste makers in Korea, a couple of days after AmorePacific recalled 12 of its products that contained chloromethylisothiazolinone (CMIT) and methylisothiazolinone (MIT), two chemicals banned from use in Korean toothpaste.

CMIT and MIT are also the two key chemicals found in Oxy Reckitt Benckiser’s deadly humidifier sterilizers, which claimed the lives of more than 100 people earlier this year.

AmorePacific, the nation’s top cosmetics company, initially recalled 11 of its toothpaste products on Tuesday, but the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety later found there was an additional product under the popular Median label that was left out of the recall list.

Another local pharmaceutical company, Bukwang, announced it would recall some of its products in its four toothpaste brands, Sirinmed, Anti-Plaque, Bukwangtax and Kids, which encompasses some 20 products.

“We recently found out through news outlets that our toothpaste products may contain the same problematic chemicals because we use the same supplier,” the company said in a statement. “The chemicals in question were not identified in the report we received from the supplier, but it is assumed that they are in our products, too, so we are rolling out a recall plan on some of our products.”

Both Bukwang and AmorePacific source some of their products’ ingredients from local chemical supplier Miwon Commercial, which has been accused of supplying ingredients containing CMIT and MIT without properly notifying the manufacturers.

The government will also look into 11 cosmetics and quasi-drug manufacturers this week. AmorePacific has so far been the only company found using CMIT and MIT over the limit. It will consequently inspect other products in the cosmetics and quasi-drug categories, which includes detergents, fabric conditioners and air fresheners, to see if the controversial chemicals are used over the limit.

In European countries, CMIT and MIT are allowed in products at a limit of 15 parts per million. AmorePacific’s recalled products contain the problematic chemicals ranging from 0.0022 to 0.0044 parts per million.

In the United States, there is no such regulation on CMIT and MIT.

An official at the ministry explained that the amount found in Korean toothpaste can hardly have any harmful effect to the human body, especially since users tend to wash their mouth after using the products.

He added that even if all the residue is absorbed by the body, the amount is too minimal to have any toxic consequences.

For washable cosmetics such as shampoo and rinse, 15 parts per million of CMIT and MIT are allowed in Korea. For unwashable cosmetics such as lotion and makeup products, the chemicals are completely prohibited.

Since AmorePacific started the recall on Wednesday, some 1.5 million units of its toothpaste products were either exchanged or refunded as of Thursday. The company’s shares fell 0.26 percent on Friday, closing at 389,000 won ($353).


BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]

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