Settlement requires payment of $10 million "With Enforma, you can eat what you want and never,ever, ever have to diet again."
These and other weight loss claims for "The Enforma System" are touted in television and Internet ads. But, according to a Federal Trade Commission complaint filed in federal court, the company's claims are false and unsubstantiated. Under a settlement filed with the court, the company will no longer make deceptive weight loss claims and will pay the FTC $10 million to be returned to purchasers of the product or, if that is not practical, paid to the U.S. Treasury.
The marketers of "Fat Trapper" and "Exercise In A Bottle" have settled FTC charges that they made false and unsubstantiated weight loss claims in their advertising of "The Enforma System." The FTC complaint names Enforma Natural Products, Inc., its president and Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Grey, and Fred Zinos, a former Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Enforma Natural Products advertises and sells "The Enforma System" to consumers nationwide. The product has been promoted chiefly via televised 30 minute infomercials, featuring former baseball player Steve Garvey, as well as through the company's Web site. "The Enforma System" consists of two dietary supplements with ingredients that are becoming increasingly popular weight loss remedies: a chitosan-based product called "Fat Trapper" that purports to prevent the absorption of dietary fat; and a pyruvate product named "Exercise In A Bottle" that supposedly increases the body's capacity to burn fat.
"Lose weight without dieting? Not a chance!" said Jodie Bernstein, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "Miracle weight loss claims prey on people who are overweight or obese. When marketers promise effortless weight loss, it's bad business. The fact is there's only one sure way to lose weight and keep it off: eat less and exercise more."
According to the FTC, the Enforma infomercials have included such statements as:
- The Enforma System "helps your body to burn more calories while you're just standing or sitting around doing nothing - even while you're sleeping."
- With the Enforma System, "you can enjoy all these delicious foods like fried chicken, pizza, cheeseburgers, even butter and sour cream, and stop worrying about the weight."
- Fat Trapper "permanently" blocks fat "so that it can never be absorbed by your body - never."
- "Exercise In A Bottle works on a cellular level, forcing every cell in your body to work, whether you're exercising or not. And when your cells are working, you are burning calories or losing fat."
The FTC's complaint charges that through these and other statements Enforma Natural Products, Grey and Zinos have represented, without adequate substantiation, that "the Enforma System" allows users to lose substantial weight, and keep it off, without dieting or exercise; and works even if users eat substantial amounts of high fat foods like fried chicken, pizza or cheeseburgers. The complaint also challenges as unsubstantiated the claims that Fat Trapper prevents absorption of all or substantially all of the fat users consume, and that Exercise In A Bottle increases metabolism, burns sugar and carbohydrates before they turn to fat, and burns off fat already in the body. Finally, the complaint alleges that the defendants falsely claimed that they had scientific testing proving their weight loss, fat absorption, and fat burning claims.
The FTC has filed two Stipulated Final Orders (one with Enforma Natural Products and Grey and the other with Zinos) in settlement of the charges. Both orders:
- prohibit the defendants from making unsubstantiated claims that any product, service or program causes or maintains weight loss or avoids weight gain without dieting or exercise, prevents fat absorption, increases metabolism, burns fat, or allows weight loss even if users eat high fat foods;
- require that future weight loss claims be accompanied by a clear and prominent disclosure that reducing calorie intake and/or exercising more is necessary to lose weight;
- require that the defendants have scientific substantiation for any claims about the health or weight loss benefits, performance, safety or efficacy of any product, service or program; and
- prohibit false claims about the existence or results of any tests, studies, or research.
The Stipulated Order with Enforma Natural Products and Grey also requires that they pay to the FTC $10 million as consumer redress. The first payment of $5 million must be made within five days after the order is entered, with the remaining $5 million paid over six months. The defendants must execute a promissory note for the unpaid $5 million, and give a security interest to the FTC in all of the company's assets to ensure payment of the judgment. The $10 million will be used by the FTC to provide refunds to consumers who bought "the Enforma System"directly from the defendants prior to March 31, 2000. But, if the FTC decides that refunds are not practical, it may choose to distribute the money to the U.S. Treasury.
The Stipulated Final Order with Fred Zinos does not require him to make any monetary payment to the FTC. The order states the Commission's agreement is premised on the accuracy of sworn financial statements provided by Zinos, and that should these statements contain any material misrepresentation or omission, the Commission may ask that the order be reopened to allow the Commission to modify Zinos' monetary liability.
The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the complaint against Enforma Natural Products, Andrew Grey, and Fred Zinos, and the stipulated final orders, was 5-0. The case was filed in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, in Los Angeles, on April 25, 2000.
NOTE: These stipulated final orders are for settlement purposes only and do not constitute an admission by the defendants of a law violation. Final orders have the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the complaint and stipulated final orders will be available shortly from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. Copies of news releases pertaining to other dietary supplement cases are also available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.
(FTC File No. 992 3160)
(Civil Action No.: 04376JSL(CWx))
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