NBC 5 Investigation Prompts National Health Alert
Experts Say Fluoride Levels Could Cause Sickness
POSTED: 3:59 pm CDT June 11, 2004
DALLAS -- Health officials have posted a nationwide alert in response to an NBC 5 investigation that found imported toothpaste at North Texas dollar discount stores.
ORIGINAL REPORT: Bargain Toothpastes Pose Hazard
NBC 5 reporter Ken Kalthoff first broke this story in May, when he found several tubes of foreign toothpaste at eight different dollar discount stores around North Texas.
Initial Report: Some Dollar-Store Bargains Could Prove Costly
Shopping undercover, our NBC 5 crew found that most of the packages look a lot like regular American brands. In fact, customers at the stores told us they would never have noticed the tiny print that indicated the products were really made in places like South Africa.
Some of the toothpaste had extremely high levels of fluoride -- as much as 10 times the American dosage.
An expert at the Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas said some would be prescription-strength fluoride in the United States.
Since our report, poison control centers have learned about our discovery and have posted a nationwide alert with information for people who swallow the foreign toothpaste because too much fluoride can reportedly be dangerous, especially for children.
"When you ingest fluoride, it can cause some stomach irritation, some nausea, some vomiting, some abdominal pain. And the higher concentration, it would take a lesser amount to cause a problem for a child," North Texas Poison Control representative James Garrison said.
The manufacturers claim their products are safe, but not meant for sale in the United States, and that they do not import the products to the United States and even try to stop those who do.
Store owners reportedly buy the products from wholesalers.
An FDA official said the agency relies on local inspectors to enforce import regulations.
Dallas employs 12 inspectors to handle grocery stores and restaurants that sell perishable items. Ahsan Khan, of the city of Dallas, said the inspectors do not inspect dollar stores.