Mama Tish's Italian Specialties, Inc., of Chicago, Illinois, has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it misrepresented the calorie content of its flavored ice cup desserts. Print advertisements challenged by the FTC claimed that the companies' ice cups were "naturally low in calories," when, in fact, such was not the case. The proposed settlement to the FTC's charges would prohibit Mama Tish's from misrepresenting the amount of calories or other nutrients in any of their frozen dessert products in the future.
According to the FTC's complaint, Mama Tish's print advertisements for its ice cups contained such representations as:
- It's made with real fruit.
- Lots of great refreshing flavors.
- It's fat-free, cholesterol-free, and naturally low in calories.
In fact, according to the FTC, Mama Tish's ice cups are not low in calories. The 10 regular flavors of the ice cups contain 104 to 145 calories per fluid ounce serving, and the two flavors sweetened with Nutrasweet contain 60 calories per serving. Under Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, to be considered "low calorie," a food must contain 40 or fewer calories per serving. Thus, the representations that Mama Tish's ice cups are low in calories were false and misleading, the FTC charged.
The proposed settlement, announced today for a 60-day public comment period, would prohibit Mama Tish's from misrepresenting the existence, or amount of calories, or any other nutrient or ingredient in any frozen dessert product. (Any such claims must follow FDA requirements regarding nutrient content claims in advertising.) The settlement would permit Mama Tish's to make representations specifically permitted in labeling under FDA regulations.
The Commission vote to place the proposed agreement on the public record was 5-0.
The proposed consent agreement will be published in the Federal Register shortly and will be subject to public comment for 60 days, after which the Commission will decide whether to make it final. Comments should be addressed to the FTC, Office of the Secretary, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
NOTE: A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission of a law violation. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of $10,000.
Copies of the complaint and proposed consent agreement, as well as an analysis of the agreement to aid in public comment are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov
(FTC File No. 942 3344)