Good News Products, Inc. has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that health claims in advertising and promotional material for Good News Eggs were deceptive. Good News allegedly made false representations that its eggs were significantly lower in fat than ordinary eggs.
In addition, the FTC alleged that the company made unsubstantiated claims that its eggs would increase blood cholesterol levels less than ordinary eggs, and that the omega-3 fatty acids in Good News Eggs would have a positive effect on risk factors for heart disease, such as atherosclerosis, high blood cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Under the settlement, Good News has agreed not to misrepresent the nutrient content of eggs or products containing egg yolks, and not to make health claims about such products without scientific evidence to substantiate the claims.
Good News Products, Inc. is located in Hamilton, Michigan.
The settlement with Good News Eggs is one of several recent consent agreements announced following publication of the Commission's Enforcement Policy Statement on Food Advertising in May 1994. The FTC's statement, and the proposed consent agreement with Good News, reflect the Commission's commitment to prohibiting deceptive nutrient content and health claims in advertising.
According to the complaint detailing the FTC charges, Good News used print, broadcast and point of purchase ads for its eggs that included statements such as:
- "Our egg is lower in fat than a regular egg";
- "Good News Eggs are from hens fed a special diet naturally low in saturated fat. So Good News eggs are lower in saturated fat - and higher in Omega 3's";
- "What else does Omega 3 do? It has been shown to lower blood pressure, and to have anti-inflammatory effects. But the most exciting research shows that Omega 3 may lower blood cholesterol levels";
- "...Omega 3 polyunsaturates have been shown to have positive effects on atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis and high blood cholesterol levels."
Through such statements, Good News represented that its eggs contained significantly lower levels of total fat and saturated fat than ordinary eggs, according to the complaint. In fact, Good News Eggs are not significantly lower in fat and saturated fat than ordinary eggs, the complaint alleges. In addition, the FTC alleges, Good News did not have adequate substantiation for its claims that the omega-3 fatty acids in Good News Eggs would have a positive effect on risk factors for heart disease, such as atherosclerosis, high blood-cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, and on rheumatoid arthritis; or that they may decrease blood cholesterol or increase it less than ordinary eggs.
The proposed consent agreement to settle the charges would prohibit Good News from misrepresenting the amount of fat, saturated fat or any other nutrient or ingredient in its eggs or any food it sells containing egg yolks. It also would prohibit the company from making any representations about the absolute or comparative effect of such a food on heart disease or heart disease risk factors or on serum cholesterol, and about the absolute or comparative health benefits of such a food, unless it possessed and relied upon competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate the claims. The agreement also would require that Good News terminate licensing agreements with any licensee that engages in practices prohibited by the proposed settlement. The settlement would not prohibit Good News from making any claim permitted under Food and Drug Administration nutrition labeling regulations.
The Commission vote to announce the proposed consent agreement for public comment was 5-0. The proposed 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, consent agreement and an analysis to aid the public in commenting are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
(FTC File No. 932 3144)