Recently, activated charcoal has become a popular ingredient in personal care products. The complaint for this class action admits that activate charcoal “is highly porous and has adsorptive qualities that can be useful in certain contexts.” But it also alleges that Cali White tooth-whitening products made by Crew International, LLC are neither as effective nor as safe as advertised.
The Nationwide Class for this action is all persons who bought Cali White charcoal toothpastes or toothpowders for personal or household dental use within the US. There is also an Oklahoma subclass.
At issue in this case are certain of Crew’s tooth-care products, including Cali White Activated Charcoal and Coconut Oil Teeth Whitening Toothpaste and Cali White Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening Powder.
The complaint alleges that the company’s marketing makes a number of claims for the products:
Unfortunately, the complaint alleges that these statements are not true. The statement regarding the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) it calls, flatly, “false.”
In 2017, the Journal of the American Dental Association said there was not enough laboratory or clinical data to say that activated charcoal products were safe or effective. In 2019, the British Dental Journal made a similar statement and even expressed concern that they might be harmful. According to the complaint, the American Dental Association (ADA) “has not approved any charcoal dentifrices for its ADA Seal of Acceptance…”
The complaint even alleges two other dimensions to the deception: The products are not made in California, as advertised. Also, “Cali White has advertised the Charcoal Dentifrices at a deep ‘discount’ from a much higher listed full retail price; however, the price reduction was not a true bargain, but instead another deceptive practice…” That is, it claims that the “full” price was a false price at which the products are not normally sold.
The products are in fact not as effective or safe as advertised, the complaint says, alleging that other, cheaper products meet oral hygiene needs better and that charcoal can cause discoloration of the gum line and “excessive abrasion of tooth enamel and dentin, yellowing of the teeth, and damage to dental implants.”
The complaint brings suit under Oklahoma’s Consumer Protection Act, its Deceptive Trade Practices Act, and other laws on false advertising and unfair competition, among other things.