Tom’s of Maine and Colgate Accused of Falsely Advertising “Natural” Toothpaste

By on June 2, 2015

A class action lawsuit was filed against Tom’s of Maine and Colgate Palmolive, alleging that their “natural” toothpaste claims are misleading since the products contain synthetic ingredients including glycerin, xylitol and sodium lauryl sulfate.

The Tom’s of Maine class action lawsuit asserts that “Xylitol is an ingredient derived from the crushed fibers of sugar cane using a multi-step chemical reaction that involves the use of sulfuric acid, calcium oxide, phosphoric acid and active charcoal,” and “[sodium lauryl sulfate] is a highly chemically-processed surfactant, detergent and emulsifier sourced from fatty acids that are extracted from coconut or palm oil, which are then chemically converted into esters and hydrogenated through the addition of chemicals to produce fatty alcohol.  The fatty alcohol is then sulfated and neutralized through further chemical addition to yield the final ingredient.”

In addition, the complaint points out that Tom’s mischaracterizes xylitol and sodium lauryl sulfate as natural ingredients on its website.  “Although there are other ingredients that could impart some of the same properties, we have chosen to use xylitol in several of our oral care products because of its natural source and possibly additional dental hygiene benefits” and “our sodium lauryl sulfate is naturally derived from coconut and/or palm kernel oil.”

While federal laws do not define the meaning of “natural,” the complaint claim the word confuses consumers by leading them to believe that the ingredients are safe and healthy.

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