WASHINGTON - Five-ounce tubes of toothpaste labeled Colgate and sold in discount stores in four states are being recalled because they may contain a poisonous chemical, according to the importer.
A Food and Drug Administration official, Doug Arbesfeld, confirmed that testing had found the chemical in a product with the Colgate label. But he said the agency is unsure if it is really Colgate or a counterfeit.
"We are aware that toothpaste is something that's been counterfeited in the past," he said. "We don't want to alarm people unnecessarily."
There was no immediate reply to a message left with a Colgate-Palmolive spokesman last evening.
MS USA Trading Inc. of North Bergen, N.J., said the toothpaste may contain diethylene glycol, a chemical found in antifreeze.
The company said the toothpaste, imported from South Africa, was sold in discount stores in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.
"Made in South Africa" is printed on the box and includes Regular, Gel, Triple, and Herbal versions.
The company said the problem was discovered in routine testing by the Food and Drug Administration. It said no illnesses have been reported to date.
The same chemical has led to the recall of several brands of toothpaste imported from China. Consumers who have purchased 5-ounce toothpaste under the Colgate label can return them for a refund, MS USA Trading said.