China China banned diethylene glycol - a thickening agent in antifreeze - from use in toothpaste Wednesday, one of its most significant concessions yet as it struggles to regain international confidence in the country's beleaguered exports.
Chinese-made toothpaste containing the toxic substance, which can cause kidney failure, paralysis and death, has been yanked from sale in North and South America, Europe and Asia in recent weeks.
Diethylene glycol is used as a low-cost substitute for glycerin, a sweetener commonly found in drugs, food, toothpaste and other products. Although there have been no reports of health problems stemming from the toothpaste, dozens of people in Panama died last year after taking medicine contaminated with the chemical imported from China. It was passed off as harmless glycerin.
The announcement is the latest in a string of moves by China to clarify murky regulations, tighten enforcement and clean up graft - factors underpinning its poor food safety record - as it fights to prove it is not a danger to the global supply chain.