LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Federal and state prosecutors on Thursday brought criminal charges against two US companies that allegedly imported toxic toothpaste from China, the Los Angeles city attorney's office said in a statement.
The charges were brought in coordination with the Food and Drug Administration against "two local (California) companies found importing and distributing more than 70,000 tubes of toothpaste manufactured in China which contain the poisonous chemical diethylene glycol (DEG)," it said.
The president and vice president of Vernon Sales, Inc. were charged with "14 criminal counts for receiving, selling and delivering an adulterated drug -- any product containing a banned substance."
The two top company executives for Selective Imports Corp. were also charged with "two criminal counts each for receiving, selling and delivering products containing DEG."
The city attorney said each count carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a 1,000 dollar fine. DEG is commonly used as a thickening agent as well as in solvents and antifreeze.
The FDA issued a warning about DEG in Chinese-made toothpaste known as Cooldent, as well as more than 10 other brands, in June, 2007, advising consumers not to purchase the low-cost toothpaste typically sold at discount stores and to check labels.
"Investigators believe Selective Imports Corporation and Vernon Sales, Inc., in just the last 12 months alone, distributed 480 tubes of 'Cooldent' toothpaste containing DEG to stores and businesses in the city of Los Angeles, most of which was placed on store shelves for purchase by the public," it said.
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