Whitening toothpaste safety scare

This post is an extract from the Danwei Bulletin, a briefing of company and market news collected from the Chinese news and social media before the information appears in English language reporting and sent to premium subscribers of the FT’s China Confidential and Danwei. Please click here for more information.

On May 2, Modern Life Daily 当代生活报 reported on a study of test results of whitening toothpaste from Guangxi University for Nationalities, located in Nanning. The study found that six brands of whitening toothpaste contained ‘carcinogenic sulfites’. In response, the China Oral Health Products Industry Association cast doubt on the methodology of the study, but the report caused a spike of social media conversations on Sina Weibo, many of them negative.

As the chart above illustrates, the day the news was first reported in the media (May 2, the blue lines), it caused an immediate spike, followed by a larger spike the next day (the brown lines). Conversation gradually receded over the next few days.

The brands and companies affected are listed below. Note that the report concerns only whitening toothpastes, not the full range of products offered under the brands listed here.

Companies and brands affected
Zhonghua 中华 (Unilever NYSE:UN)
Colgate 高露洁 & Darlie 黑人 (Colgate Palmolive NYSE:CL)
Heimei 黑妹 (Masson Group – privately held)
Crest 佳洁士 (Procter & Gamble Company NYSE:PG)
Liby 立白 (Guangzhou Liby Group – privately held)

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