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September 5, 2011

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Colgate clears its China toothpaste

COLGATE said none of its toothpastes sold in China contain triclosan, commenting in the wake of a United States study detailing safety concerns over the chemical.

The Colgate-Palmolive (China) Co said in a statement that it stopped production of Colgate Total, its only toothpaste with triclosan and which covered only a tiny market share in China, early this year. It didn't say whether Total is still available in other countries, and it did not cite a reason for the discontinuance.

Medical experts said people should be cautious while choosing toothpastes containing triclosan, a chemical used in a range of consumer products including soaps and toothpastes, after the US Food and Drug Administration kicked off a new round of safety review.

The US FDA said triclosan is not currently known to be hazardous to humans. But animal studies have shown that the chemical alters hormone regulation, while other studies found it can make bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

The FDA is engaged in a scientific and regulatory review of triclosan, but it does not have sufficient safety evidence to recommend changing consumer use of products that contain the substance now.

Officials from the Shanghai Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision said it is closely following the US study. China's national standard on toothpaste limits triclosan, allowing it as a preservative if the content is less than 0.3 percent of the total weight. Domestic toothpastes containing triclosan cover only a small market.

Dr Ye Wei from the Shanghai No.9 People's Hospital said it is good to use antibacterial toothpaste to protect dental health. But he said "many other ingredients like traditional Chinese medicine also have the same function and consumers can choose those products while triclosan is still under safety review."

"It is difficult to describe its harm or effects now when triclosan is still under some international study," he said.

He said those with dental problems should visit dentists for professional direction on toothpaste instead of buying medical toothpaste by themselves.

The US FDA was to announce the results of its triclosan review by the spring of this year, but the agency delayed the findings to the winter of 2012 without giving a reason.


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