Authorities in Panama and the Dominican Republic have pulled tens of thousands of tubes of Chinese-made toothpaste from the shelves in stores after it was discovered to contain a potentially deadly chemical.

Health authorities in Panama told VOA that investigators confirm the toothpaste contains diethylene glycol - an ingredient commonly used in antifreeze. The toothpaste was sold under the brand names of Mr. Cool and Excel.

Last year, diethylene glycol was mistakenly mixed with cough syrup in Panama and claimed at least 51 lives. No deaths have been reported in connection with the tainted toothpaste.

Panamanian authorities say the toothpaste was exported from the east coast of China.

Chinese authorities are investigating two companies, Danyang Household Chemical Company and Goldcredit International Trading Company in that region to see if they are responsible for exporting the toothpaste.

Officials from both companies admit that they used the ingredient in their toothpaste.

The general manager of Danyang Household Chemical Company told the Associated Press the company had exported toothpaste to Panama containing diethylene glycol. However, company officials say the chemical is safe in small amounts.

Concern over the toothpaste comes after contaminated pet food ingredients from China caused a recall of pet food in the United States.

Analysts tell VOA that consumers may begin to shy away from Chinese exports and that consumer confidence must be restored.