Colgate: Fake toothpaste poses 'low' health risk

Company says its own research tallies with FDA finding that the diethylene glycol chemical in counterfeit Colgate toothpaste poses a low health risk to consumers.

By Parija B. Kavilanz, senior writer

NEW YORK ( -- Colgate-Palmolive said Friday that its own research of counterfeit "Colgate" toothpaste sold in the U.S. tallied with the Food and Drug Administration's conclusion that the fake product containing a chemical used in antifreeze poses a "low" health risk to consumers.

The company said in a statement that it agrees with comments from FDA spokesman Doug Arbesfeld, who was quoted in various news reports as saying that diethylene glycol "[is] a low health risk but the bottom line is, it doesn't belong in toothpaste."

Colgate (Charts, Fortune 500), whose brands include Colgate, Palmolive, Softsoap, IrishSpring and Tom's of Maine, warned Thursday that counterfeit toothpaste not containing fluoride and falsely packaged as "Colgate" was found in several dollar-type discount stores in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

The company said Friday it has taken additional measures to protect consumers against potential risk from using the contaminated toothpaste.

Colgate said it is contacting all of its retail clients in the U.S. to ensure they have no counterfeit product. It said it's also collecting the suspected fake products found in retail stores in the four states.

The company also said it would provide details about the fake toothpaste to about 50,000 dental professionals to assist them in answering patients' questions.

Consumers can speak with Colgate representatives on its information line at 800-468-6502 and provide information about any purchased product they suspect to be fake.

The counterfeit product comes labeled as a 5 ounce or 100 ml tube, a size not made or sold by Colgate in the United States.

Consumers can identify the counterfeit product by the words on the package, "Manufactured in South Africa." Colgate said the packaging may also feature several misspelled words including: "isclinically", "SOUTH AFRLCA" and "South African Dental Assoxiation."

Colgate's warning came on the heels of an FDA warning earlier this month advising consumers to avoid using toothpaste labeled as "Made in China" because of diethylene glycol contamination, which if ingested, could result in poisoning.  Top of page