NEW YORK —In recent months, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has identified a number of instances of contaminated toothpaste being imported and sold in the United States, including counterfeit Colgate toothpaste that may contain a chemical used in antifreeze. Since the news broke, hundreds of tubes of suspected toothpaste have been stripped from store shelves.
“Colgate recognizes the seriousness of illegal counterfeit products, and the health risk they may present, and works with law-enforcement authorities to prevent such products from reaching the consumer marketplace,” Colgate-Palmolive stated in its most recent update. “It is important that consumers support efforts to remove these illegal products which Colgate does not make or distribute, and report to Colgate and regulatory authorities any suspected counterfeit product.”
Consumers have been urged to closely read the packaging, as there are several indicators that identify the product as counterfeit.
The counterfeit product comes labeled as a 5-ounce tube (or 100 ml tube), a size not made or sold by Colgate in the United States.
There are words on the package, “Manufactured by: COLGATE-PALMOLIVE (PTV) LTD., SOUTH AFRICA – 52 Commissioner Street, Boksburg, 1460.”
There may be several misspelled words on the product carton including: “isclinically,” “SOUTH AFRLCA,” and “South African Dental Assoxiation.”
Colgate initially announced that the counterfeit toothpaste had been located in several dollar-type discount stores in four states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland. However, Illinois, Connecticut and Massachusetts soon joined the list.
There were indications that the tubes did not contain fluoride and may contain diethylene glycol, a chemical used in antifreeze, and, as Colgate stressed, one that is not and has never been an ingredient in Colgate toothpaste anywhere in the world.
In July, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell Jr. announced that they had confiscated from five different discount and dollar stores 430 tubes of counterfeit Colgate reportedly made in South Africa and 275 tubes of Chinese-made Dentakleen and Dentakleen Junior strawberry and blueberry flavor.
“We are stopping sales and seizing this toxic toothpaste, holding retailers accountable for every tube on their shelves,” Blumenthal stated.
In Illinois, Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced that a daylong sweep in Chicago neighborhoods turned up more than 480 tubes of suspect toothpaste on store shelves, mostly low-end discount stores. In addition to finding tubes that indicated it was made in South Africa, Madigan said searchers also found toothpaste with Chinese writing on the packaging and labeling indicating it was made in China. Colgate-labeled toothpaste with Chinese writing is not authorized for sale in the United States.
In addition, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued an advisory in July stating that counterfeit toothpaste had been found in 11 communities, including Boston. Again, most of the products were found in small, independent dollar-type discount stores.