Toothpaste: No Supersize Packaging?

Buy in bulk and save: Sam’s Club and Costco are built on this concept. Even at non-warehouse retailors, you can buy a large quantity in a big container, usually at a decreased price for unit of measure. For example, for $2.40 you can buy about 1 pound of Peter Pan Peanut Butter, or spend about $10.00 to buy 6 pounds: that’s almost 2 pounds for free!

With all that peanut butter, you’ll need to clean your teeth, which you should be doing at least twice daily. With such a consistent need, you’d expect that you could buy a supersize tube of toothpaste. However, Costco and Walmart are selling the same size tube of toothpaste (8.2oz) , you’re just getting several more tubes at Costco.

Why is that? While it is possible to have a too big container from a practical standpoint, there is another factor here: FDA regulations!

FDA’s toothpaste regulations limit the package size. 21 C.F.R. 355.20. This is because fluoride can be toxic when ingested at certain levels, especially for small children who decided to eat an entire tube of toothpaste. At low levels, eating fluoride toothpaste will cause an upset tummy, and possibly vomiting and diarrhea.

At sufficiently high levels, fluoride will cause death. This unfortunately happened on a mass scale in 1942. While making scrabbled eggs for dinner at a mental health hospital, sodium fluoride was mistakenly used instead of powdered milk and used to make the eggs. The contaminated eggs made 400+ people sick and killed 47.

Thus recognizing fluoride’s possible health consequences when ingested,  FDA created a packaging limit so that if someone (a small kid) ate all the toothpaste they would have a limited exposure. So in the event you have a desire for a massively large tube of toothpaste, which you won’t find, you have FDA to blame.

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