The defendants admitted in trafficking a half million tubes of the dangerous counterfeit Colgate. Ager McConnell bought a tube at a San Francisco neighborhood market.
"I was using this for a couple of weeks and my girlfriend came over and used it once and said this tastes a little funky, a little weird," says McConnell.
A closer look at the tube revealed it was made in South Africa -- just like the counterfeit tooth paste uncovered by federal authorities.
The counterfeit has antifreeze in it -- something you wouldn't want to ingest. Jager complained to Colgate and the company sent him a refund.
"I was more worried about what if a kid got this, what if a child found some Colgate and decided to it? That is a scary proposition."
Colgate sent inspectors to a dozen stores in the Bay Area and found only one similar tube. The company told us in May that it is committed to protecting consumers and selling a product they can rely on.
The FDA issued a warning, saying the fake tube contained numerous misspellings including 'Africa' and 'Association'.
Neither Colgate nor federal authorities would confirm whether the toothpaste found there was part of the counterfeit batch, but we've been told all the counterfeit toothpaste has been removed from store shelves.
Two individual defendants face up to 10 years in prison and $2 million in fines. Two companies have also entered guilty pleas and face up to $5 million in fines.
The FDA released this note:
Counterfeit Colgate Toothpaste Found
Allison Klimerman 212-310-3770
Tom Paolella 212-310-2774
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- The Colgate–Palmolive Company today warned that counterfeit toothpaste falsely packaged as "Colgate" has been found in several dollar-type discount stores in four states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. There are indications that this product does not contain fluoride and may contain Diethylene Glycol. The Company stated that it does not use, nor has ever used, Diethylene Glycol as an ingredient in Colgate toothpaste anywhere in the world.
The counterfeit toothpaste can be easily recognized because it is labelled as "Manufactured in South Africa." Colgate does not import toothpaste into the United States from South Africa. In addition, the counterfeit packages examined so far have several misspellings including: "isclinically" "SOUTH AFRLCA" "South African Dental Assoxiation".
Counterfeit toothpaste is not manufactured or distributed by Colgate and has no connection with the Company whatsoever. Colgate is working closely with the US FDA to help to identify those responsible for the counterfeit product.
Consumers who suspect they may have purchased counterfeit product, can call Colgate's toll-free number at 1 800 468 6502.