China's feeling squeezed

Chinese made toothpaste Dentamint


Doug Krizner: Last month the FDA warned us to avoid using toothpaste made in China. That's because a dangerous chemical was being used to make it sweet. This morning the Chinese government has outlawed the additive, and as Scott Tong reports now it's Beijing that's worried — about the reputation of its exports.

Scott Tong: The newly banned chemical is dyethylene glycol.

It's a cost-saving substitute for what's supposed to be in toothpaste — but it's also linked to kidney failure and paralysis.

Product substitution's an open secret in China and in the last two months the West has been feeling it as well.

In its announcement, Beijing defended the safety of Chinese toothpaste but it said that the ban is meant to reassure consumers. It also said it's "to prevent exporters from unnecessary losses."

Buyers of Chinese goods are increasingly throwing up trade barriers, threatening a key engine of an economy that zooms ahead at 11 percent every year.

In Shanghai, I'm Scott Tong for Marketplace.

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s Sustainability Desk.


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