The Eskimo Pie Corporation has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it made false and misleading claims in advertising that its "Sugar Freedom" line of frozen dessert products is low or significantly reduced in calories, and that it is approved or endorsed by the American Diabetes Association. The FTC also alleged that Eskimo Pie's failure to disclose that the products contain high levels of both total and saturated fat was deceptive, in light of Eskimo Pie's advertising claims that the line of products is useful or appropriate for diabetics.
The Eskimo Pie Corporation is based in Richmond, Virginia. The American Diabetes Association is not charged with any wrongdoing in connection with this matter.
Under the proposed consent agreement to settle these alle- gations, announced today for public comment, Eskimo Pie has agreed not to misrepresent the existence or amount of calories or any other nutrient or ingredient in any frozen dessert product. The settlement also would prohibit Eskimo Pie from falsely claiming that any frozen dessert product has been approved, endorsed or recommended by any person, group or organization
In addition, if Eskimo Pie represents that any frozen dessert is a useful or appropriate part of a diabetic's diet, it has agreed to a provision that would require it to disclose:
- the total fat content, if the product is not low in fat;
- the saturated fat content, if the product is not low in saturated fat; and
- that the product is not a reduced-calorie product, if such a disclosure would be required by the Food and Drug Administration on the product's label.
The settlement would permit Eskimo Pie to make any repre- sentations specifically permitted by the FDA under that agency's nutrition labeling regulations. It also would permit the company to use the American Diabetes Association logo or other such logos in a nondeceptive manner. By the same token, the order would not prohibit Eskimo Pie from engaging in nondeceptive, cause-related marketing.
The FTC recommends that consumers read food labels carefully to determine the nutritional content of particular products. Reading labels can educate consumers and assist them in main- taining healthy dietary practices. Consumers with specific health concerns especially can benefit from reading nutritional labels to ensure that their daily food intake is appropriate for their particular dietary needs.
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 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, consent agreement, and an analysis of the agreement to assist the public in commenting are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, same address as above.
(FTC File No. 942 3044)