Life Wellbeing P&G accuses Colgate of telling ‘white lies’ about brightening toothpaste

P&G accuses Colgate of telling ‘white lies’ about brightening toothpaste

Brush until your arm falls off, says P&G, but Colgate's whitening toothpaste won't make much difference. Photo: Vividental
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Colgate is lying through its teeth by claiming a whitening toothpaste can remove 10 years of yellow stains, according to a rival’s Federal Court lawsuit.

The makers of Oral B say Australian consumers are being misled or deceived by advertisements and product labelling for Colgate Optic White Renewal whitening toothpaste.

In papers filed with the Federal Court, Procter and Gamble says no reliable scientific data establishes the toothpaste removes yellow stains that have accumulated over the last 10 years.

Declarations the toothpaste is “proven to deeply whiten beyond surface stains,” “whitens teeth inside and out” and takes “years off your smile” have also been called into question.

Colgate says the toothpaste, which is three per cent hydrogen peroxide, removes a decade worth of yellow stains with twice-daily brushing for four weeks.

Hydrogen peroxide can whiten surface and deep teeth stains but the use of the toothpaste would cause the bleaching agent to “quickly decompose into oxygen and water by reason of its contact with saliva in the mouth,” P&G says in its statement of claim.

“The (toothpaste) is likely to provide only a minor teeth whitening effect and will not provide a major teeth whitening effect on stains and discoloration internal to the tooth that is measurable against 10 years of yellow stains,” the company says.

Oral-B’s packaging promises a radiant smile. Photo: Colgate

“(It will not) remove yellow stains that have accumulated over the last 10 years.”
Each of Colgate’s alleged misrepresentations about its product were misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive, P&G says.

By law, companies cannot make false or misleading representations that goods have performance characteristics, uses or benefits that they do not have.

P&G says it lost sales, consumer brand equity and consumer confidence as a result of Colgate’s teeth-whitening claims.

“Unless restrained, (Colgate-Palmolive) threatens to repeat and continue to engage in the conduct complained of in this Statement of Claim with the result that (P&G) is likely to suffer further loss and damage,” Oral B’s makers say.

Colgate-Palmolive, described by its rival as Australia’s largest seller of teeth-whitening products, is yet to file a defence to the case.

But the product webpage and YouTube ads in question remained online on Wednesday.

Colgate-Palmolive has been contacted for comment.