Internet auctioneer eBay blocked the global sale of Sorbitol yesterday, a sugar substitute that has been blamed for the death of a medical patient in Italy. As a subject in a food intolerance test being conducted in a private clinic in the town of Barletta, Teresa Sunna, 28, died after taking the food additive. Two other subjects of the trial who had also ingested Sorbitol are presently recovering in a hospital.
Italian police have launched an investigation, and have seized 1,000 tons of Sorbitol from local businesses so far. The artificial sweetener is used in cakes, ice cream and diet foods, and is widely available for purchase online. The Italian Health Ministry released a statement directing anyone who bought the product on eBay to contact authorities, adding that "there is no need for a general health alarm" on products containing Sorbitol.
EBay has stated that it is "profoundly pained by what has happened," and is cooperating with authorities. The company is blocking the sale of Sorbitol until the cause of the death and illnesses is explained.
Cargill, the maker of the fatal batch of Sorbitol, stated, "according to our internal investigation, the batch in question at the time of its dispatch (from Italy) conformed to our rigorous standards for product quality and safety."