Toothpaste imported from South Africa recalled in 4 US states

Five-ounce (142-gram) tubes of toothpaste labeled Colgate and sold in discount stores in four U.S. states are being recalled because they may contain a poisonous chemical, according to the importer.

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration official, Doug Arbesfeld, confirmed that testing had found the chemical in a product with the Colgate label. But he said the agency is unsure if it is really Colgate or a counterfeit.

"We are aware that toothpaste is something that's been counterfeited in the past," he said. "We don't want to alarm people unnecessarily."

There was no immediate reply to an e-mail message left with a Colgate-Palmolive spokesman Wednesday evening.

MS USA Trading, Inc. of North Bergen, New Jersey, said the toothpaste may contain diethylene glycol, a chemical found in antifreeze. The same chemical has led to the recall of several brands of toothpaste imported from China in recent weeks.

The company said the toothpaste, imported from South Africa, was sold in discount stores in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

"Made in South Africa" is printed on the box and includes Regular, Gel, Triple and Herbal versions.

The company said the problem was discovered in routine testing by the Food and Drug Administration. It said no illnesses have been reported to date.

Consumers who have purchased 5-ounce (142-gram) toothpaste under the Colgate label can return them to the place of purchase for a refund, MS USA Trading said.