Food safety agency expands probe into toxic toothpaste chemicals

By Park Sae-jin Posted : September 29, 2016, 17:50 Updated : September 29, 2016, 17:50

[Yonhap News Photo]

Nearly all toothpaste makers will be investigated to see if they used harmful chemical substances, food safety regulators said Thursday as a public anger grew following a shocking recall by South Korean cosmetics giant AmorePacific Co.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety called for an inspection of all products from 68 toothpaste companies regardless of whether they used chemical substances from Miwon Commercial Co.

Separately, Bukwang Pharmaceutical Co. announced a spontaneous recall on concerns it may have used the same chemicals supplied by Miwon.

AmorePacific stopped sales of its popular toothpaste products Tuesday and offered full refunds after the food safety agency discovered a small amount of chloro-methylisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone.

Discount store chains and retailers have removed AmorePacific's products from their shelves. AmorePacific's toothpaste brands have been used by almost one-fourth of the population. A group of 14 consumers filed a lawsuit against AmorePacific Chairman Suh Kyung-bae.

The amount of chemicals used by AmorePacific as a preservative called sodium lauryl sulfate was below Europe's maximum permissible level of 15 ppm, posing no significant health risks if consumers rinse it with water, the ministry said.

However, public health concerns grew because similar agents were contained in toxic humidifier sterilizers produced by Oxy Reckitt Benckiser Korea, the local unit of a British company.

Government data showed 103 people, including dozens of pregnant women and infants, were presumed to have died after using humidifier disinfectants produced by Oxy and other companies. Oxy has been widely vilified for covering up the harmfulness of its product and a dozen people have been charged.

Aju News Lim Chang-won =
기사 이미지 확대 보기