Colgate-Palmolive Co. said on Friday that counterfeit toothpaste falsely labeled as “Colgate” posed a low health risk, and the company said it was picking up the suspected fakes from small independent stores in four U.S. states.
Colgate has contacted all of its accounts to ensure they have no fakes, the company added.
The counterfeit toothpaste, containing the toxic chemical diethylene glycol, is labeled as being manufactured in South Africa and comes in a 5-ounce tube, a size Colgate does not sell in the United States.
The toothpaste was sold in discount stores in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
“Made in South Africa” is printed on the box and includes Regular, Gel, Triple and Herbal versions.
The problem was discovered in routine testing by the Food and Drug Administration. It said no illnesses have been reported to date.
Working with FDA
The same chemical has led to the recall of several brands of toothpaste imported from China in recent weeks.
Colgate-Palmolive issued a press release early Thursday saying the tubes are counterfeit.
The company said it does not use, nor has ever used, diethylene glycol as an ingredient in Colgate toothpaste anywhere in the world.
“Colgate does not import toothpaste into the United States from South Africa,” said the statement from Colgate-Palmolive. “In addition, the counterfeit packages examined so far have several misspellings including: ‘isclinically,’ ‘SOUTH AFRLCA’ and ‘South African Dental Assoxiation.
“Counterfeit toothpaste is not manufactured or distributed by Colgate and has no connection with the company whatsoever,” the company said, adding that Colgate is working closely with the FDA “to help to identify those responsible for the counterfeit product.”
But Colgate said consumers who suspect they may have purchased counterfeit product can call Colgate’s toll-free number at 1-800-468-6502.