Thursday, June 28, 2007


Even an idiot might be expected to know this is a better quality product than a nine cent tube of toothpaste. But not the state of Georgia.

"After federal health officials discovered last month that tainted Chinese toothpaste had entered the United States, they warned that it would most likely be found in discount stores," reported the New York Times today.

"In fact, the toothpaste has been distributed much more widely. Roughly 900,000 tubes containing a poison used in some antifreeze products have turned up in hospitals for the mentally ill, prisons, juvenile detention centers and even some hospitals serving the general population."

Hospitals for the mentally ill, prisons and juvie hall -- not exactly the places one expects to see much oversight or care if patients and inmates suffer organ damage from diethylene glycol, the poison in Chinese toothpaste.

DD adds poisoned Chinese toothpaste was also found in low end stores in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, your GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow's former place of residence.

However, the most interesting part of the Times story was the amount of money paid for the poison toothpaste. Sold in quantity to Georgia prisons by a company called American Amenities (we think readers will admit the name is quite the rib-tickler), the toothpaste was dirt cheap.

How cheap?

"[Georgia] bought the toothpaste for about 9 cents a tube in 2002," wrote the Times. "[Mr. Rick Beal of Georgia's Dept. of Administrative Services] said he did not know how many tubes had been used."

Nine cents a tube.

One would have been better off recommending inmates brush their teeth with a pack of sugar stolen from a restaurant, a stick or perhaps a tablespoon of sand from the yard.

Indeed, when selling toothpaste for nine cents a unit, the only reason it isn't a tube of dirt, is that dirt doesn't actually look like toothpaste. The texture and color just aren't right.

While the Chinese are certainly deserving of opprobrium, it is a national disgrace when the only working standard for a consumable vended by an American company is this: How cheap can we get it from someone else?

With this kind of system -- where the depraved can easily be rewarded with business contracts -- security and integrity are almost impossible.

Naturally, no one in the United States can actually make toothpaste for nine cents a tube, wholesale, without employing slave labor and using some cheap filler poison as an ingredient. It insults the intelligence and sense of decency to even think so.

It would also be stupid to think the contamination with counterfeit goods can be stopped at the source, China. However, it is not quite so difficult an undertaking to begin heavily punishing companies in the United States which have lost control of their supplies and products in the quest for profit. Or one can contemplate the morality, or lack of it, and come up with a course of action for American companies which exist to sell the cheapest possible rubbish just because they think they can get away with it.

Sgt. Schulz's "I know noszing!" defense shouldn't cut it.

One could also look to officials within the state government of Georgia. What was that bureaucrat thinking when he saw a nine cent price tag for an imported tube of toothpaste?

We do know that he or she was not thinking like a decent human being.

This was how they were thinking: Who cares about the mentally ill, people in prisons or the poor? All they deserve is toothpaste that's cheaper 'n dirt. It saves the taxpayer some money and I won't spend a penny extra on such undesirables. It'll look good on my year-end report, too.

The original from the New York Times.

An earlier story from the archives of Eat Zinc!

Eat Zinc! on Chinese toothpaste from last month.

Browse the fascinating and outraging EAT ZINC archive. Bad food and additives from China, the kind of business guarantee no one wants but can't get rid of.


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