Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What is Tribromoanisole? Tylenol Arthiritis Recall 2009

On reading of the expanded recall alert for Tylenol today, I was intrigued to know what had caused the musty smell that alerted authorities and McNeil Consumer Healthcare to a problem with the arthritis caps. The substance at the heart of this recall has been identified as - tribromoanisole. And it is the musty smell of the tribromoanisole that is causing many who have consumed these caps to experience nausea, vomiting, stomach pains and diarrhea.

Tribromoanisole or 2,4,6-tribromoanisole is the musty-smelling metabolite of a chemical fungicide 2,4,6-tribromophenol. It is associated with the treatment of wood pallets. These pallets or skids are then used in the transportation of the packaging materials with which the bottles for the Tylenol caplets were made.

A study on sultanas published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry [1997, 45 (3), pp 889–893] notes that, 2,4,6-tribromoanisole is high on the list of probable mustiness causing agents that taint packaged foods. McNeil Consumer Healthcare advises that all the complaints it received pointed to a short-lived discomfort but acknowledges that the effects of this metabolite on the human organism have not been fully studied.

The presence of the metabolite in packaging materials raises serious questions about its effect on other packaged foods and medications. Stay tuned for more updates on this hidden danger.

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