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FDA clarifies its stance on limits and uses of controversial triclosan

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Food and Drug Admission (FDA) clarified yesterday that the maximum level of triclosan (三氯沙) — a chemical which extensively used in soap, shampoo, toothpaste and more — that a product can contain is under 0.3 percent, while responding to concerns that the chemical may lead to cancer or physical deformations in fetuses, as has been reported by various international media outlets.

According to the FDA, the restriction level for triclosan is the same as in the European Union, Canada and South Korea. In addition, the FDA also pointed out that triclosan has not been proven dangerous.

However, the FDA still pointed out that it will keep an eye on international reports as well as the latest information related to triclosan so that it can take immediate action if need be.

So far, triclosan has been proven effective toward offering better bacterial reduction when used in consumer products such as cleaning products, cosmetics and toys. However, an international media outlet reported that the chemical, which is used in toothpaste products of multinational firm Colgate, may be linked to cancer and growth malformations in animals.

The report also revealed that this kind of toothpaste was approved by the FDA in United States in 1997, though the information relating to the standards of triclosan in toothpaste was only based on the report provided by the company. This has led to doubt within the scientific community regarding the validity of the approval process.

Responding to the issue, Colgate emphasized that its products are safe and effective in dealing with gum diseases. In addition, the Hawley and Hazel Group (好來化工), the company that imports Colgate toothpaste to Taiwan, said that it only imports seven kinds of Colgate toothpaste. Each toothpaste meets the FDA's national standards, so there should not be any cause for concern.

The FDA promised that it will continue to keep tabs on not only this issue but also the safety of other consumer products including cleaning products, makeup products and more, hoping to provide a more secure environment. In addition, the FDA also pointed out that citizens can report illegal products or seek advice through the FDA hotline.

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