Thursday, January 17, 2008

Law & Order explores toxic toothpaste and lipstick-laden pants

The Jan 17 08 episode of "Law & Order" explored a variation on last year's toxic toothpaste scenario.

The June 2, 07 New York Times had reported:

[FDA]officials said they found toothpaste containing a small amount of diethylene glycol, a sweet, syrupy poison, at a Dollar Plus retail store in Miami, sold under the brand name ShiR Fresh Mint Fluoride Paste. The F.D.A. also identified nine other brands of Chinese toothpaste that contain diethylene glycol, some with concentrations of 3 percent to 4 percent.


Over the years, counterfeiters have found it profitable to substitute diethylene glycol for its chemical cousin, glycerin, which is usually more expensive. Glycerin is a safe additive commonly found in food, drugs and household products. In toothpaste, glycerin is used as a thickening agent.


In a statement yesterday, federal health officials called diethylene-glycol poisoning “an important public safety issue.” The Panamanian government last year inadvertently mixed the poison made in China into 260,000 bottles of cold medicine, killing at least 100 people, prosecutors there said.

In that case, Chinese regulators acknowledged on Thursday that two companies in China had “engaged in some misconduct” in the way they labeled and sold the diethylene glycol, but they said a Panamanian importer bore most of the blame.

In the Law & Order plotline, a US company, after (unknowingly) buying the tainted toothpaste, sold the (known) tainted toothpaste to other entities, rather than destroying the stuff. The victims were entities low on the food chain: convicts and old people.

In addition to the toothpaste, this episode had a "pants lawsuit" subtheme. As one blog noted: Did anyone see the new Law and Order about Roy Pearson (the pants lawsuit) AND Chinese-made antifreeze-laden toothpaste — all in one episode?
IPBiz notes there was a bit more to THIS pants subtheme, with a reprise of a laughline from Muriel's Wedding (involving lipstick).


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