FOR RELEASE: APRIL 23, 1993
NATURE'S CLEANSER SETTLES FTC CHARGES THAT IT MADE DECEPTIVE HEALTH AND WEIGHT-LOSS CLAIMS FOR HERBAL PRODUCTS
Nature's Cleanser, Inc., based in Beverly Hills, California, and Donald Douglas-Torry, an officer of the corporation, have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that they made numerous false and misleading statements about "Nature's Cleanser," an herbal product they marketed to promote weight loss and weight control, and "Lady's Comfort," an herbal product purported to relieve menstrual pain, discomfort associated with menopause, and other conditions. The proposed settlement would prohibit the respondents from making the alleged false claims, and would require them to offer full refunds to all consumers who purchased the products. The respondents also would be required to have reliable scientific evidence to substantiate any future claims regarding the performance, benefits or effectiveness of any food, drug or device they sell.
According to the FTC complaint detailing the allegations, the respondents advertised, distributed, and sold throughout the United States, several herbal tablets (collectively referred to as "Nature's Cleanser") represented as a non-laxative product to "cleanse" the bowel and colon and, as a result, promote weight- loss.
The FTC complaint cites advertisements and promotional materials for Nature's Cleanser, as well as oral communications with consumers, that include statements such as:
- more - Nature's Cleanser--04/23/93)
-- "Control your weight immediately without dieting or watching calories by eliminating waste such as fatty tissues, cellulite, toxins, mucus, hardened fecal matter and harmful drug residues;"
-- "Fennel [is] an appetite suppressant;"
-- "Psyllium Seed is the bulking agent that causes the sweeping effect, cleaning off the walls, floors and ceiling of the colon, although it is not itself an herbal laxgtive [sic];" and
-- "If you wish to eliminate at a more rapid rate, more tablets can be taken without ill effect."
According to the FTC complaint, these representations are false, misleading and unsubstantiated. In fact, the FTC alleged, Nature's Cleanser does contain a laxative and, at some dosage levels, can cause adverse health effects. Further, according to the FTC complaint, Nature's Cleanser also does not contain an appetite suppressant and is not effective in weight loss and weight control.
Likewise, according to the FTC complaint, the respondents' advertisements and promotional materials for Lady's Comfort -- promoted as a treatment for Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS), menopause and other conditions -- contained statements that were false, misleading or unsubstantiated. The ads included such statements as:
-- "Nature's Cleanser P.M.S./Menopause Formula performs a myriad of functions, one of the most important being alleviating any discomfort associated with menopause (hot flashes, etc.); it also prolongs the period between fer- tility and change of life which should occur between the ages of sixty (60) to sixty-five (65). Nature's Cleanser Herbal Hormones is a natural alternative to the widely applied use of synthetic estrogen and progesterone;" and
-- "These two formulae will rid the body of old cellulite and stop new cellulite buildup."
The FTC alleged that, through these and other statements, the respondents represented that Lady's Comfort replaces hormones in the human body; is an effective alternative to synthetic hor- mones; prolongs a woman's period of fertility; and helps remove cellulite and prevents the formation of new cellulite. In fact, the FTC charged, these representations are not true and are unsubstantiated.
The proposed consent agreement to settle these charges would prohibit the respondents from making any of the false represen- tations described in the FTC complaint for Nature's Cleanser, Nature's Cleanser--04/23/93)
Lady's Comfort or any product containing substantially similar ingredients. Further, the consent agreement would prohibit the respondents from making any claim regarding the performance, benefits, effectiveness, or lack of adverse effects, for any food, drug or device, unless they possess competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate the claim. The respondents would be permitted to rely on standards promulgated by the Food and Drug Administration to substantiate their claims for drug products.
Finally, the proposed consent order contains a provision for consumer redress that would require the respondents to notify, by mail, past purchasers of Nature's Cleanser and Lady's Comfort of the FTC allegations and to offer these customers full refunds. Funds not distributed because consumers fail to respond would have to be paid to the U.S. Treasury.
The Commission vote to accept the proposed consent agreement for public comment was 5-0. It 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 Office of the Secretary, FTC, 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, proposed consent order, and an analysis to aid the public in commenting are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsyl- vania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261.
# # #
MEDIA CONTACT: Bonnie Jansen, Office of Public Affairs 202-326-2161 or Don Elder, Office of Public Affairs 202-326-2181
STAFF CONTACT: Linda Badger, San Francisco Regional Office 901 Market Street, Suite 570 San Francisco, California 94103 415-744-7920
(FTC File No. 922 3017) (NATCLNSR)