In a webcast this morning, Jessica Rich, director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection, announced four law enforcement actions that will recover about $34 million for consumers.
“Resolutions to lose weight are easy to make but hard to keep,” said Rich. “And the chances of being successful just by sprinkling something on your food, rubbing cream on your thighs, or using a supplement are slim to none. The science just isn’t there.”
Commenting independently on the announcement, Justin J. Prochnow, shareholder at Greenberg Traurig, LLP, told NutraIngredients-USA: “While the FTC has always viewed claims made for weight-loss products with a healthy dose of skepticism and scrutiny, the new actions by the FTC are somewhat unique in that the FTC is calling on the media to help stop deceptive advertising.
“The action by the FTC to send letters out to 75 publishers and broadcasters to review the new ‘Gut Check’ guidance when screening ads for publication is certainly a new strategy and will likely result in companies needing to reevaluate their advertising campaigns.
“It will be important for marketers to review the guidance as well to ensure that they are not making bogus claims or claims to which the FTC is particularly sensitive.”
The big case of the four focuses on the marketers of Sensa, who exhorted consumers to “sprinkle, eat, and lose weight”, said FTC.
“The FTC has alleged that one study the defendant described as an independent double-blind, placebo-controlled study was based on fabricated data, and too largely controlled by the defendants to be characterized as independent. Two other studies were also fatally flawed.”
Sensa will pay $26.5 million to settle FTC charges that it deceived consumers with unfounded weight-loss claims and misleading endorsements. According to Rich, consumer sales of Sensa exceeded $364 million.
FTC also announced a partial settlement in a case against supplement marketer LeanSpa, LLC. FTC alleges the company deceptively promoted acai berry and ‘colon cleanse’ weight-loss supplements through fake news websites.