China mulls raising standards for oral care certification

In response to pressure from US and other worldwide regulation
authorities, the China government has reported that it is
developing stricter certification for oral care products.

The move follows numerous cases of China-made toothpaste in the US Central America and Autstralia were found to contain a potentially lethal chemical used in anti-freeze, diethylene glycol (DEG).

According to reports in the China state media, the country currently has no guidelines specifically targeting the use of DEG in oral care products, as it is deemed to be harmless is small quantities.

However, in response to the alarm caused by the identification of numerous China-made toothpastes found to contain traces of the chemical, the government has said that it is currently drawing up new certification and evaluation procedures to tackle the problem.

China's Health Ministry and the China Certification and Accreditation Administration said in a joint statement carried by the China News Service the new rules would aim to 'improve the quality, safety and hygiene of oral health care products'.

Although officials at the Health Ministry claim that plans to update the certification of oral care products have been in place since last year, the fact that the authorities has publicly conceded that improvements are in the pipeline is considered by many to be a sign that it is bowing to pressure from regulation authorities worldwide.

The recent scare over China exports has had a particularly significant impact in the US, where large amounts of potentially contaminated China-made toothpaste have been traced to both discount stores and institutions such as hospitals and prisons.

Concerns over exports from China to the US are not new though.

Earlier this year imports of contaminated pet food made in China led to the deaths of a number of cats and dogs, triggering authorities to tighten import regulations.

Since then US authorities have placed import bans and blocks on a number of products, including fish, color additives, juices and toys containing lead paint.

Although China authorities have, until very recently, either played down or ignored health and safety concerns relating to goods exported out of China, the most recent action by the Health Ministry suggests that the country is now seriously re-thinking regulation in an effort to comply with international standards.

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