Siracusa - A scare involving possibly tainted toothpaste spread to Sicily on Wednesday where dozens of tubes were seized for testing. Health and hygiene police swooped on street markets and stands in and around Siracusa on the southeast coast of Sicily, confiscating batches of counterfeit Colgate toothpaste.
The tubes carried the Colgate brand but the labelling was in Turkish or other languages and not Italian, police said.
Samples were sent off for testing to see if the toothpaste contained dangerous substances.
Some 20,000 tubes of fake Colgate toothpaste were seized across the mainland on Saturday amid fears that the products could contain harmful bacteria or toxic elements such as diethylene glycol, a chemical used in antifreeze.
The Higher Health Institute (ISS) has begun testing samples of the toothpaste, which police said was produced in Asia, the Middle East, South America and Africa, and the results are expected by the end of the week.
The seizures followed toothpaste scares in Spain, the US and Canada which mainly concerned products made in China.
Meanwhile, doctors at a Palermo hospital on Wednesday sought to allay alarm over the case of a 30-year-old man who was admitted to an emergency ward earlier this week. The man complained of feeling ill after brushing his teeth with toothpaste bought at a local supermarket.
Doctors, however, diagnosed an acute allergic reaction to an anti-inflammatory drug.
Police nonetheless carried out checks at the supermarket concerned and seized 200 tubes of toothpaste, samples of which will be tested for potentially dangerous substances.
ITALIANS TOLD TO CHECK LABELS. The Health Ministry urged Italians to carefully check the labels on toothpaste products, stressing that fake ones were easy to spot because the labelling was only in foreign languages and contained evident misspellings.
Colgate issued a statement on Monday assuring consumers of the safety of its products.
"Colgate toothpaste sold on the Italian market is produced in factories situated within the European Union or Brazil. Genuine tubes of Colgate are easy to identify because the writing on the labels must include Italian and refer to Colgate-Palmolive Italian," it said.
"Colgate is in no way involved with these illegal, counterfeit activities," it added. The EU warned member states in May about the dangers of fake and possibly tainted products ending up on national markets, in particular toothpaste of Chinese origin.