Neem toothpaste safe, says firm

Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi
Sep 05, 2007 01:39 AM IST

Henkel India has claimed the toothpaste is completely safe and does not contain the poisonous Diethylene Glycol (DEG), reports Sanchita Sharma.

Following the Canadian government’s advice last week against the use of Neem Active Toothpaste with Calcium from India, its manufacturer Henkel India has claimed the toothpaste is completely safe and does not contain the poisonous Diethylene Glycol (DEG).

HT Image
HT Image

Said Henkel India managing director A Satish Kukmar, “DEG is not used to manufacture Neem Active toothpaste and the product does not contain DEG either. Therefore, it is safe for use.”

Swallowing DEG causes nausea, abdominal pain, urinary problems, kidney failure, breathing problems, lethargy, convulsions, coma and even death. Samples of the toothpaste were also found to contain harmful bacteria that can cause fever, urinary tract infection, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain.

“After the Canadian allegations, we tested toothpaste samples for bacteria and DEG from batches manufactured over the past two years and found them safe. The test results have made it clear that there is no DEG or harmful bacteria in the product,” said Kumar.

Henkel India said they have asked Canadian authorties for details like batch numbers and year of manufacture of the samples tested and the methodology used to arrive at the results. “Neem Active Toothpaste has not been exported to Canada since 2000, so the samples tested are either past their expiry period or have been carried as baggage or assorted stock by shopkeepers. They could even be fakes. We need more details to be sure,” Kumar said.

The director of the Shriram Institute for Industrial Research in Delhi, Dr R.K. Khandal, said, “Toothpastes are based on polyethylene glycol and other surface active agents. During manufacturing, monoethylene glycol and DEG remain as impurities in polyethylene glycols. The glycol must be checked for MEG and DEG content to rule out toxicity.”


    Sanchita is the health & science editor of the Hindustan Times. She has been reporting and writing on public health policy, health and nutrition for close to two decades. She is an International Reporting Project fellow from Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and was part of the expert group that drafted the Press Council of India’s media guidelines on health reporting, including reporting on people living with HIV.

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