By Dan Shapley
It came from China, went to Spain and ended up in Panama, where health officials mixed it into a deadly cough syrup. It was diethylene glycol, the same toxic ingredient recently discovered in toothpaste in some discount stores in the United States. It's been used -- illegally or inadvertently and with deadly effect -- as a cheap substitute for glycerine. The startlingly high death toll in Panama -- the number could climb into the hundreds -- is a reminder about how critical it is for regulators to ensure that imports are properly labeled and tested. Recent scares have found gaps so big you could drive a tanker filled with diethylene glycol through them, according to a story in the June 20 Los Angeles Times.