Procter & Gamble faces a class action lawsuit over its line of Crest activated charcoal toothpaste, alleging the company negligently misrepresented the products as safe, while making unfounded claims of oral care benefits.
The complaint (PDF) was filed last month in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio by Erica Parks and Daniel Durgin, seeking class action status to pursue damages on behalf of consumers nationwide who paid a premium for Crest charcoal toothpaste products, based on what they say are false and misleading representations about the benefits and risks.
Charcoal-inclusive hygiene products have become a new trend throughout the United States over the last several years, with the carbon residue products increasingly making their way into facial and skin soaps and scrubs based on several perceived benefits, including the ability to remove toxins from the skin. However, the use of charcoal in toothpaste products has not received the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance, which certifies the safety and efficacy of a toothpaste based on clinical data and research.
According to allegations raised in the Crest Charcoal Toothpaste lawsuit, Procter & Gamble (P&G) used deceptive and opportunistic marketing strategies to influence consumers to pay a premium for products that purported unsubstantiated benefits, which may actually cause harm to consumers.
Specifically, Parks indicates her use of Crest 3D White Charcoal Whitening Therapy Deep Clean toothpaste left a black residue on her teeth, and Durgin claims his use of Crest charcoal toothpaste didn’t whiten his teeth and left him concerned about possible harm.
The Cincinnati residents claim P&G falsely and negligently advertised its Crest Charcoal Toothpaste by promoting the products as whitening, cleansing, gentle, detoxifying, penetrating, enamel-safe, and cavity-fighting, despite a consensus among the dental industry against the use of charcoal products due to the lack of scientific evidence on effectiveness and consumer safety, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit points to a 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA), which stated “there is insufficient laboratory or clinical data to substantiate the safety and efficacy of dentifrices containing activated charcoal,” and cautioned against its use.
Plaintiffs also referenced a 2019 study published in the British Dental Journal (BDJ), which indicates the porous nature of charcoal could cause harm to gums and tooth enamel. The study further “expressed concern that charcoal toothpastes are a ‘marketing gimmick’ that could, in fact, cause harm to oral health, structures, and aesthetics.”
The complaint alleges P&G charges a premium for charcoal toothpastes while aggressively promoting materially misleading benefits, enabling the company of selling its charcoal toothpaste in great quantities while putting profits over consumer safety.
A series of charcoal toothpaste lawsuits have been filed in recent years, with one of the most recent filed last month in New York, again against Proctor & Gamble, raising similar allegations that the manufacturer used false and deceptive marketing practices to sell its charcoal toothpaste for a premium.