Several cheap brands of toothpaste, sold openly along the streets of Freetown and in some Lebanese shops namely ‘Maksam, Maxam, Close Up Gel, Aprea fresh and some others have been discovered to contain the poisonous substance ‘Diethylene Glycol’ which “causes kidney and liver damage (and) ultimately results to death.”
These were the chilling words of the Acting Registrar of the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone as he labored to explain ‘the peddling of death’ by petty traders and unscrupulous businessmen.
According to the Acting Registrar Wiltshire Johnson a 20ft container of the dangerous toothpaste was imported by Owallah Enterprise of 153 Bai Bureh Road.
When it was discovered that the toothpaste contained high levels of the dangerous substance the container was ordered to be quarantined on 6th June 2008 pending confirmation of the quality of the toothpaste.
After conducting the necessary verification tests Acting Registrar Pharmacy Board Wilshire Johnson stated that the consignment of toothpaste in question “have now been confirmed as fake and heavily contaminated with Diethylene Glycol.”
However Mr Johnson lamented, “the proprietors of Owallah Enterprise have taken upon themselves to break the law and sell the contaminated toothpaste to the public…”
The proprietor of Owallah Enterprise Saidu Kamara has however been arrested and is presently helping Police with their investigations.
However Saidu Kamara’s total disregard for the lives of the unsuspecting public has now seen the toothpaste being sold openly by women petty traders along Sani Abacha street and in some shops.
When this reporter went around, some of the toxic toothpastes were seen on the shelves of HJB stores and Lap enterprise at Sani Abacha Street.
Questioned where they got the toothpaste from, the shop owner (name withheld) of HJB store revealed that they bought the offending toothpaste from one Ahmed Kadi, who was said to be the importer.
Efforts to get to Ahmed Kadi of Ascension town have so far proved unsuccessful.
However a concerned Medical Practitioner stated that “Sooner or later people will start dying or suffering from kidney and liver related diseases if these lethal toothpastes are not rid of the streets”.
Diethylene glycol is said to be the chemical used in the production of toothpaste to give it the smooth feel in the mouth. However a more advanced chemical is used by more respectable manufacturers for the same effect without the same toxic after effects. Diethylene glycol is said to be the cheaper option which goes along with the dangerous effects. It is used by unscrupulous manufacturers who want to cut corners and make fast money at the expense of the lives of innocent consumers. According to investigations conducted with the help of the internet, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also discovered this poisonous chemical- diethylene glycol, in certain toothpastes imported from China and has warned consumers to avoid using tubes of toothpaste labeled as made in China.
They have gone further to issue an import alert, stopping all such suspected toothpaste from entering the United States.
It is not known how far the present government will go to stamp out this dangerous practice which is threatening the lives of the poor and innocent Sierra Leoneans. By Ophaniel Gooding