Saturday, February 07, 2009

Counterfeiting's Cruel Calculus

Once again Nigeria has made headlines with fake infant teething formula laced with a poisonous glycerin substitute. 84 children have died after being given My Pikin Baby Teething Mixture that included diethylene glycol.

Because diethylene glycol looks, smells and tastes like glycerin, a sweet syrup commonly used in a wide range of medicines, foods and toothpaste, counterfeiters calculate they can enhance their profit by substituting diethylene glycol, which is relatively cheap, for the more expensive but harmless glycerin.

The same calculus led Chinese dairy farmers to contaminate milk with deadly melamine.