Legal Environment of Business (law101)
Law 101 Case Study
Action Items
In Brazil, the export industry always finds ways to cut costs. The international community expressed its dismay at the manufacturers’ latest cost-cutting decision to replace flouride with diethylene glycol in toothpaste. Flouride is designed to strengthen teeth enamel. Diethylene glycol is a poisonous substance used to make chemicals that are widely used by the automobile industry.
The end product exported from Brazil was poisonous toothpaste that was not labeled to indicate that it contained diethylene glycol. When the poisonous chemical was found in the toothpaste, Costa Rican government officials issued a warning telling consumers to discard the toothpaste. In 2019, a study found that toothpaste containing diethylene glycol was harmless if the chemical concentration was below 15.6 percent. The contaminated toothpaste found in Costa Rica contained levels as high as 5 percent. Costa Rican government officials warned that it was unsafe in any concentration. It is especially harmful for children, as well as those suffering from weakened kidneys.
In July 2020, due to growing concern about the safety of the imported toothpaste, the Costa Rican government banned all manufacturers from using diethylene glycol in toothpaste. Investigators believed that the toothpaste originated from two small manufacturers in the Brazil but the manufacturers denied any wrongdoing.
The contaminated toothpaste was found in five shipping containers but there have not been any confirmed illnesses or deaths from using the contaminated toothpaste.
If you were manufacturing toothpaste and decided to substitute diethylene glycol for glycerin, would you consider it your ethical obligation to tell the consumer?
Submission Instructions
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Action Items

In Brazil, the export industry always finds ways to cut costs. The international community expressed its dismay at the manufacturers’ latest cost-cutting decision to replace flouride with diethylene glycol in toothpaste. Flouride is designed to strengthen teeth enamel. Diethylene glycol is a poisonous substance used to make chemicals that are widely used by the automobile industry.

The end product exported from Brazil was poisonous toothpaste that was not labeled to indicate that it contained diethylene glycol. When the poisonous chemical was found in the toothpaste, Costa Rican government officials issued a warning telling consumers to discard the toothpaste. In 2019, a study found that toothpaste containing diethylene glycol was harmless if the chemical concentration was below 15.6 percent. The contaminated toothpaste found in Costa Rica contained levels as high as 5 percent. Costa Rican government officials warned that it was unsafe in any concentration. It is especially harmful for children, as well as those suffering from weakened kidneys.

In July 2020, due to growing concern about the safety of the imported toothpaste, the Costa Rican government banned all manufacturers from using diethylene glycol in toothpaste. Investigators believed that the toothpaste originated from two small manufacturers in the Brazil but the manufacturers denied any wrongdoing.

The contaminated toothpaste was found in five shipping containers but there have not been any confirmed illnesses or deaths from using the contaminated toothpaste.

If you were manufacturing toothpaste and decided to substitute diethylene glycol for glycerin, would you consider it your ethical obligation to tell the consumer?

Yes, I would consider it my ethical obligation to tell the consumer if I were manufacturing toothpaste and decided to substitute diethylene glycol for glycerin.

Diethylene glycol is a toxic substance that can cause a variety of health problems, including kidney failure, liver failure, and death. It is especially dangerous for children and people with weakened kidneys.

By failing to disclose the use of diethylene glycol in toothpaste, manufacturers are putting consumers at risk. Consumers have a right to know what ingredients are in the products they are using, and they have a right to make informed decisions about their health.

In addition to being unethical, failing to disclose the use of diethylene glycol in toothpaste could also be illegal. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that all food and drug products be labeled with a list of ingredients. Manufacturers who fail to comply with this requirement could be subject to fines or other penalties.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to disclose the use of diethylene glycol in toothpaste is a moral one. Manufacturers have a responsibility to protect the health of their customers, and that includes being honest about the ingredients in their products.

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