P&G takes on Colgate in Federal Court over Optic White claims

FMCG giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) has filed a Federal Court lawsuit accusing rival Colgate-Palmolive of misleading consumers in the marketing of Colgate Optic White Renewal whitening toothpaste.

P&G, the manufacturer of Oral B products, claims Australian consumers are being misled or deceived by advertisements and product labelling for this product, and says it has lost sales as a result.

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

According to papers filed by P&G, there is no reliable scientific data to prove that the toothpaste “removes 10 years of yellow stains”, as claimed on the packaging.

While hydrogen peroxide can whiten the surface and deep teeth stains, P&G says 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”.

According to AAP, claims that 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.

“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,” P&G says.

“(It will not) remove yellow stains that have accumulated over the last 10 years.”

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,” P&G said.

Colgate-Palmolive is yet to file a defence to the case.

A spokesperson for Colgate-Palmolive told Inside FMCG on Thursday: “While we don’t comment on pending litigation, we do stand by our claims and will defend them vigorously.”

Inside FMCG has also contacted P&G for comment.

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