Telangana: Big fight in court over toothpaste

Colgate contests claim by city resident.

Hyderabad: The additional junior civil judge court of Ranga Reddy in Malkajgiri will decide on March 30 whether to reject or continue hearing the suit against the multinational Colgate-Palmolive. Dr G. Venkateshwar Rao, a former scientist with the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics and convener of the Forum Against Corruption in Science, has filed a plaint against Colgate-Palmolive for using two harmful ingredients, titanium dioxide and triclosan, in its popular toothpaste.

Dr Rao, in his affidavit in the court, alleged that titanium dioxide and triclosan were considered to be carcinogenic and could cause tumours and disrupt the endocrine system. Dr Rao sent legal notices to Colgate seeking details of long-term safety studies and laboratory test results. He later filed a suit in the court citing several international scientific publications and journals which found that the two ingredients used in the toothpaste were unsafe. He asked the court to issue orders to remove the two ingredients.

Mr Makarant Karnataki, associate director, legal, and company secretary of Colgate, filed a counter-affidavit in the court stating that the suit and interlocutory application filed were not maintainable in law nor based on facts of the case. The company said in its affidavit that the court had no jurisdiction merely because the plaintiff resided in Alwal. The company said that it ensured that its products were safe for people and environment and they met all strict safety standards of government regulations across the world.

Toothpastes were recommended by dental professionals in India and complied with laws and standards of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). Every batch manufactured underwent strict testing and only after due satisfaction was it released in the market. The company argued that the plaintiff had not shown evidence that the products were defective or had caused any harm to any consumer, and that the plaintiff should take up the grievance regarding the ingredients with BIS and not before the court.

"Defendant complies with the law of the land and has no obligation to prove the safety of its products to plaintiff but rather to BIS,” the company told the court. “BIS continues to allow these ingredients as per norms set by it in cosmetic products despite availability of scientific studies relied on by plaintiff. These aspects demonstrate that such ingredients are completely safe,” stated the counter affidavit filed by Colgate-Palmolive. Colgate also questioned why the plaintiff had chosen to sue only one company while other industry members also used these ingredients. The company alleged that he had a malafide motive.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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