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The Consumer

Color-coded toothpaste is ‘utter nonsense’

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If you are planning to change your favorite toothpaste—or have already done so—because you think it uses some potentially harmful ingredients, then you must have received the “helpful” information saying the color of squares on tubes indicate chemical content.

The website Hoax-Slayer, whose mission is to verify information like this, says the claim that toothpaste ingredients are color-coded is “utter nonsense.”

I have not heard of the claim until a friend asked me if it was true. Apparently the message has been circulating on the Internet and social networking sites. It claims that consumers can tell the chemical makeup of their toothpaste by “checking the color of a small square at the bottom of the packaging.”

The message supposedly says that if the square is colored green, then your toothpaste uses all natural ingredients. Red is supposed to indicate that there are some natural ingredients, but the toothpaste is mostly chemicals. Black is a warning that only chemicals are used in the product.

Hoax-Slayer says, “The claims in the message are false. The squares, called ‘eye marks,’ are marks used in the packaging process and do not indicate the chemical content of the tubes in any way whatsoever. The marks tell packaging machines when to perform certain tasks such as cutting or crimping tubes.”

The website adds that the rectangular marks or lines on tubes “do not in any way indicate the chemical content of the tubes they are displayed on, regardless of what color they are.”

It goes on to explain: “Eye marks can be identified by electronic eyes used in sophisticated modern packaging machinery. The marks serve a variety of packaging purposes, such as telling the machine where to cut and crimp tubes or indicating the desired color of print on packaging. Many products have such eye marks, although they may not always be visible to consumers as they are on tubes.”

The claim that the boxes suggest what a toothpaste is made of is “an outright lie,” Hoax-Slayer says. While the “squares” mean something to packaging machines and the people who operate them, they do not mean anything to the average consumer, the website points out.

A consumer who really wants to know what his/her toothpaste is made of only has to read the information on the tube or the package. For more detailed information about the product’s content, Hoax-Slayer suggests a visit to the company’s website or elsewhere on the Internet.

“But rest assured, the color of the little mark on the tube’s base will tell you nothing whatsoever about its chemical makeup,” Hoax-Slayer emphatically says.

So, next time you go shopping, it is perfectly all right to get your favorite toothpaste. And the next time you come across claims like this, you can find out if they are true by visiting www.hoax-slayer.com.

50 winners in raffle

The last raffle for the Nature.Inspire.Give campaign of Wyeth Nutrition, in cooperation with SynErgia Foundation, will be held Aug. 16. A total of 50 winners will receive educational gift packs.

The Nature.Inspire.Give drive gives notebooks to underprivileged schoolchildren through the purchase of certain Wyeth Nutrition products. Any purchase comes with a free limited-edition notebook designed by young artists and a scratch card with a promo code which has to be registered through the short message service (SMS) to be eligible for the raffle and to enable an underprivileged child to get a notebook.

Send letters to The Consumer, Lifestyle Section, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1098 Chino Roces Ave. cor. Mascardo and Yague Sts, 1204 Makati City; fax 8974793/94; or e-mail lbolido@inquirer.com.ph.


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    Snopes . com is also a reliable website for finding out about hoaxes.



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