Colgate-Palmolive Company (NYSE:CL) has recently come under the spotlight with regards to one of the ingredients in its leading brand, Total, named triclosan.
Research has proved that on being fed to rodents, for example rats and mice, and frogs, this ingredient caused significant disruption in the normal functioning of the endocrine system to cause health problems like thyroid, bone malformation and possible risk to cancer. Findings also suggested that the dose administered to frogs was miniscule and yet it caused tadpoles to have shorter and weaker legs, meaning its effect on humans would be much more impacting.
However, Colgate-Palmolive Company (NYSE:CL) has clarified its position by claiming that its brand Total had been approved by FDA on 11th July, 1997, after having been rejected four times earlier. At that time, the company had issued the following statement with respect to its brand –
“the most significant advancement in home dental care since the introduction of fluoride.”
What emerged later was the fact that in its scientific report Colgate-Palmolive Company (NYSE:CL) had refrained from including any evidence that established triclosan’s negative effects with clarity. The entire 35-page summary of toxicology on triclosan was in fact withheld by FDA from the public and the list of ingredients was revealed only recently. More than anything else, the report raises the question of FDA’s wisdom in having approved Total 17 years ago when it has been linked to stunted growth in animals and is not considered safe even for soaps, toys and cutting boards.
While Colgate (NYSE:CL) has defended its product saying that it has been particularly effective in fighting plaque and gingivitis both of which are precursors for periodontal disease, noted biology professor Thomas Zoeller makes the following observation –
“We have created a system where we are testing these chemicals out on the human population. I love the idea they are all safe, But when we have studies on animals that suggest otherwise, I think we’re taking a huge risk.”
This fight is proving to be particularly difficult for Colgate (NYSE:CL) because its competitors namely Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) and GlaxoSmithKline Plc (NYSE:GSK) have eliminated triclosan from their products owing to a doubt as to its slow poisoning effect. In light of these facts, proving the quality of total in terms of safety and health is indeed an uphill task for the company.
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This article has been written by Vinita Basu and edited by Serkan Unal.