Toothpaste Removed from Hygiene Kits at Brethren Service Center

Church of the Brethren Newsline
August 13, 2007

“We are in the process of removing toothpaste from hygiene kits (formerly named health kits) and checking the contents to be sure only the correct items are included in the kits,” reports Loretta Wolf, director of the Material Resources program of the Church of the Brethren General Board.

The Material Resources program packs, stores, and ships disaster relief materials worldwide from the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., on behalf of partner organizations such as Church World Service (CWS) and Lutheran World Relief.

Brethren and others who donate hygiene kits are being alerted that toothpaste will no longer be included in the kits. “This goes for Church World Service and Lutheran World Relief kits,” said Wolf. “It is also helpful to mark the donation carton ‘hygiene kit w/o toothpaste,’” she said.

The decision to remove toothpaste from the contents of the kits was in response to an initial problem with expiration dates, Wolf said. Now, there is the added potential for “poisoned” toothpaste from China. Wolf reported that CWS is purchasing bulk toothpaste to send alongside the hygiene kits for onsite distribution.

No decision has been made as to the disposal of the toothpaste that is being removed from donated kits, Wolf said.

In related news, the program is issuing an urgent call for donations of school kits. Wolf said there is “desperate need for school kits for Church World Service. At this point we have about 30 cartons. Church World Service has requests for several containers they are currently unable to fill.” For information about school kits, including a contents list and instructions for packing, go to www.churchworldservice.org/kits/school-kits.html.

Material Resources also issued a call for more volunteers to help staff work with the CWS kits. Help is needed to check items in donated kits so that each recipient is assured a complete and appropriate kit. Volunteer opportunities are available Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., at the Brethren Service Center. Lunch is provided for volunteers who work six hours or more. For more information or to schedule a date to volunteer, contact the New Windsor Conference Center at 410-635-8700.

More information about the toothpaste poisoning is available from the Food and Drug Administration at www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/toothpaste.html. In a statement on the website, the FDA said it has found a poisonous chemical, diethylene glycol (DEG), in certain toothpastes imported from China. It warns consumers to avoid using toothpaste labeled as made in China that is typically sold at low-cost, bargain outlets such as dollar stores. An import alert is stopping suspect toothpaste from entering the US, the website said. The website offers a list of brands from China that have been found to contain diethylene glycol.

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The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren General Board. Kathleen Campanella and Loretta Wolf contributed to this report. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To receive Newsline by e-mail go to http://listserver.emountain.net/mailman/listinfo/newsline. Submit news to the editor at cobnews@brethren.org. For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.