Colgate continues to use triclosan in their Total toothpaste -- despite numerous health concerns. In 1997, the chemical was approved for over-the-counter use by the Food and Drug Administration. However, its safety is now being questioned.
Triclosan is an antibacterial agent, which was originally developed for use in hospitals. Following its approval for consumer use, the chemical was added to numerous products, including hand soap, plastic cutting boards, and Colgate Total toothpaste.
As reported by Bloomberg, triclosan use has continued to rise. In 2003, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tested the urine of 2,517 adults and children. Triclosan was detected in 75 percent of those tested.
In 2014, the Canadian Environmental Law Association determined the agent was present in 90 percent of surface water collected from the Great Lakes. It was also detected in numerous species of fish.
Studies conducted on rats and mice suggest the antibacterial agent may reduce fertility and impair bone and muscle development. Other studies suggest the chemical may be a carcinogen.
Despite the concerns, Colgate continues to use triclosan in Total toothpaste. Colgate spokesman Thomas DiPiazza referred to the original FDA review and approval. According to DiPiazza, Colgate reviews the safety of their products on an annual basis. The results are then provided to the FDA for further approval.
DiPiazza said the FDA has approved the continued use of triclosan in toothpaste, because "In the nearly 18 years that Colgate Total has been on the market in the U.S., there has been no signal of a safety issue from adverse-event reports."
Colgate officials insist triclosan's benefits far outweigh the concerns. As the agent is effective in preventing gingivitis, plaque, and periodontal disease, it is an important ingredient in Total toothpaste.
In stark contrast, Proctor & Gamble clearly advertises their toothpaste products as "100% triclosan free." In fact, Colgate Total is the only over-the-counter toothpaste that contains the questionable agent. It is also the only toothpaste proven to reduce gingivitis.
As reported by MSN, the data is confusing at best. Triclosan has been proven to be beneficial for oral health. However, it may present numerous risks. As the data is conflicting, it may be impossible for consumers to make an informed decision.
For many, the approval of the Food and Drug Administration is a strong enough argument for the chemical's continued use. However, others would like to see updated studies and more definitive results.
Although the topic is likely to remain controversial, Colgate officials insist triclosan is safe for consumer use.
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