Law360.com reported yesterday that customers that purchased Procter & Gamble’s Crest toothpastes containing charcoal have proposed a class-action due to the fact that most dentists don’t recommend charcoal for oral care.
The proposed class action was filed in a New York federal court and accuses the consumer giant of misleading consumers into thinking charcoal is a safe and effective ingredient.
According to a research study in Operative Dentistry published last year, “Manufacturers claim that … charcoal-based products have whitening, remineralization, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties … However, there is no substantial scientific evidence for these claims.” In the study, the researchers tested charcoal toothpaste on 45 bovine enamel discs. The cow teeth were placed in three different groups: fluoride treatment, charcoal treatment and bleach treatment. After 14 days, only the cow chompers treated with bleach showed any significant whitening.
Mainstream dentists, such as those aligned with the American Dental Association (ADA) believe that toothpastes with charcoal may strip tooth enamel.
The lead plaintiff told the court that “The consensus of respected dentists, researchers and industry experts weighs against the use of charcoal dentifrices, due to the lack of scientific substantiation on safety and efficacy as well as risks of harm.”
Per the suit, the ADA hasn’t approved any charcoal toothpaste for its so-called “seal of acceptance,” which certifies the safety and efficacy of a product, the suit. “Charcoal is known to be abrasive to enamel and gums and poses safety hazards,” the lead plaintiff added.
Charcoal toothpastes have become increasingly popular over the last few years, and are usually more expensive than their non-charcoal counterparts. “Consumers are willing to pay a premium for charcoal products based on the purported benefits,” said the plaintiff.
Charcoal, or more accurately, activated charcoal, is used in hospitals to detoxify patients who have ingested poisonous substances or who present with alcohol poisoning.
The suit alleges that P&G has seized on the popularity of charcoal through its line of Crest charcoal products. But that success, alleges the suit, “is built around messaging that is materially misleading and deceptive to consumers.”
Because of the misleading marketing, consumers of Crest charcoal toothpastes have been tricked into buying the products, according to the suit. Furthermore, P&G has “jeopardized consumers’ dental hygiene, oral health and safety.”
Should the class action proceed, hundreds of thousands of consumers could be involved. The plaintiff is seeking unspecified damages, restitution, attorney fees and court costs, says Law360.com.
The specific brands of toothpaste mentioned in the class action include: Crest 3D White Toothpaste Whitening Therapy Charcoal with Hemp Seed Oil, Crest Gum Detoxify Charcoal Toothpaste and Crest 3D White Whitening Toothpaste with Charcoal.