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Formaldehyde in Candy Prompts Philippines to Test China Imports

Philippine authorities tested more Chinese products Wednesday after ordering several candy and cookie brands found to be tainted with an embalming chemical to be withdrawn from stores, the country's food safety watchdog said. 

The Bureau of Food and Drugs warned the public Tuesday against some Chinese candies and cookies that tested positive for formaldehyde, a disinfectant linked to cancer in humans.

The bureau has expanded its list of products for testing to include toothpaste suspected of containing unspecified "heavy metals," the bureau's Deputy Director Joshua Ramos said Wednesday without elaborating.

Major supermarkets and malls have 15 to 30 days to remove the contaminated items, Ramos said.

"We are continuing our sampling and testing. The initial list we came out with is just the first batch to be sampled," Ramos told Manila Radio DZBB. "There are many other products undergoing tests."

He said authorities had no problem ensuring that licensed distributors such as supermarkets comply with Philippine food regulations, but that it is difficult to monitor unlicensed facilities and prevent the dumping of products because sea borders are so porous.

Formaldehyde is used in resin production. It is well known as a preservative and embalming fluid, and is classified as a reasonably anticipated human carcinogen.

Several countries have cracked down on Chinese products since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found in April that North American dogs and cats had been poisoned by tainted Chinese pet food ingredients. Since then, a growing number of Chinese products have been found to contain potentially toxic chemicals and other adulterants.