A proposed class action claims Procter & Gamble Company’s charcoal-containing Crest toothpastes are misleadingly marketed in that the products are not as safe as advertised and may prove risky to use on enamel and gums.
According to the case, Crest 3D Whitening Therapy—Charcoal with Hemp Seed Oil; Crest Gum Detoxify Charcoal Toothpaste; and Crest 3D White Whitening Toothpaste with Charcoal are marketed as able to promote “healthier gums” and “gently clean” teeth while being safe and gentle enough for tooth enamel. The lawsuit alleges, however, that Procter & Gamble has failed to disclose to consumers that dentists, researchers and industry experts alike have warned against using charcoal dentifrices due to the lack of scientific support for the products’ efficacy and safety.
As the suit tells it, the success of Procter & Gamble’s marketing strategy for charcoal toothpastes stems from messaging that is “materially misleading and deceptive” to consumers, who’ve in turn paid a premium price for the products at issue in the name of dental health.
“By falsely advertising and misbranding its Charcoal Toothpastes, P&G prioritizes its own profits and jeopardizes consumers’ dental hygiene, oral health and safety,” the complaint scathes. “P&G’s conduct in its advertising, labeling, and sale of the Charcoal Toothpastes was, and continues to, be substantially injurious to consumers, as well as unconscionable and in contravention of public policy.”
Charcoal has long been known to have adsorptive qualities that have been proven to be useful in limited contexts, such as emergency medical treatment of certain types of poisonings and drug overdoses, the lawsuit begins. More recently, products containing activated charcoal have become increasingly prevalent due to “false, deceptive, or overstated health and beauty benefits,” the suit relays.
“Activated charcoal has been marketed to the public as capable of extracting nearly any undesirable element or substance, and in nearly any context,” according to the complaint.
The lawsuit notes, however, that numerous scientific studies have debunked popular marketing claims with respect to the benefits of activated charcoal in dentifrices, and found that the substance can actually cause harm to teeth and gingiva. Per the suit, the substance is known to be abrasive to enamel and gums and can become embedded in margins and cracks, causing bluish lines to appear. Moreover, the American Dental Association has not approved any activated charcoal dentifrice for its respected seal of approval, the case says.
Procter & Gamble, for its part, has “successfully leveraged the charcoal trends” by marketing and selling its charcoal-containing toothpastes as purportedly able to “activate a whiter smile,” the lawsuit attests. Despite touting its charcoal products as safe for tooth enamel and able to promote healthier gums, P&G, the suit alleges, fails to disclose that there is insufficient scientific evidence to substantiate safety claims and alleviate concerns regarding the risks associated with charcoal toothpaste.
The lawsuit claims P&G knew or should have known that its representations concerning the safety and efficacy of its charcoal toothpastes were misleading and deceptive yet the company “appears to have disregarded its duties as to claim substantiation, safety, marketing and advertising, as well as to product packaging and labeling.”
Per the case, the company’s marketing scheme was designed to induce consumers into purchasing the charcoal toothpaste products at a premium price. Unbeknownst to consumers, however, the products, the suit alleges, “did not and could not deliver the promised whitening benefits and lacked the represented level of safety” while posing a risk to consumers’ oral health and aesthetics.
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