Do the coloured blocks at the bottom of toothpaste tubes reveal secrets about toothpaste content?

By June 13, 2024 Health

We saw this video circulating on X and TikTok that appears to depict a conversation between Joe Rogan and Elon Musk on Rogan’s podcast. In the video, Musk expounds on a “dark theory” about toothpaste tubes and a “if you know, you know” secret about the coloured blocks actually being content markings.According to the theory, each coloured block represents certain ingredient compositions – green meaning “natural,” blue meaning “natural with medicine,” red meaning “natural with chemicals,” and black meaning “all chemicals.” We also saw other posts referencing this video alongside a graphic which makes a similar claim.

Visually, the video does seem to align with episode #1470 of the Joe Rogan Experience, which aired in October 2020 and featured Musk as a guest. However, on closer inspection, the mouth movements of both Musk and Rogan in the video do not appear to match the words being said. We also looked through a transcript of the episode in question and found that no such conversation took place.The audio therefore appears to have been artificially generated through deepfake audio technology, seemingly to capitalise on how clips the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast that feature Musk are often widely shared online.

However, while the source is dubious and made with AI, is the claim about toothpaste made by the video true? A quick search reveals that this is a long-running conspiracy about toothpaste tubes which has been clearly debunked. Instead of being markers for toothpaste ingredients, the coloured blocks are made as part of the tube’s manufacturing and printing process.

This is a well-known and common standard manufacturing practice, and the blocks are known as “colour marks” or “eye marks.” They can be observed not just on toothpaste tubes, but on many other forms of packaging.Eye marks serve as markers for high-speed machinery which folds, cuts, and seals materials to the desired shape and form. The marks indicate when the machine should make those cuts or folds and are typically found at the edge or bottom of packaging.While black is the most common colour for eye marks because it often allows for good contrast and visibility for the machine to read, different eye mark colours are also used – in some instances to provide contrast (e.g., white on black material), or in some cases as inventory reference markers. In all cases, the different coloured  eye marks serve the same purpose and have no relation to the contents of the package.

Therefore, the claim that toothpaste tube markings can indicate the contents of the toothpaste is false.

The ingredients of toothpaste are almost always readily available on the toothpaste box that the product comes in. The vague categories of “medicine” or “chemicals” made by the claim are not rooted in scientific or medical standards and would not be useful in making an informed choice about which toothpaste to use.

The re-packaging of this old packaging claim using new audio deepfake technology is an interesting example of how certain myths can linger despite being constantly debunked. And, the use of different mediums (for instance, a public figure such as Elon Musk) to transmit these claims are a new and likely recurring challenge when it comes to mis/disinformation on social media.

Leave a Reply