Posted March 16, 2006

Garden of Life, Maker of Primal Defense, Settles FTC Charges

On March 9, 2006, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that an operation that marketed dietary supplements sold at Whole Foods Market, GNC, the Vitamin Shoppe, and on the Internet settled FTC charges that they made deceptive advertising claims about their supplements. The FTC charged that Garden of Life, Inc., a dietary supplement company based in West Palm Beach, Florida, and its founder and owner, Jordan S. Rubin, made unsubstantiated claims that their supplements treated or cured a variety of ailments, ranging from colds to cancer, and also made false claims of clinical proof. The settlement prohibits deceptive claims about the results of tests or studies and requires claims by the defendants to be substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence.

The FTC’s complaint targeted claims about four dietary supplements: Primal Defense, RM-10, Living Multi, and FYI. According to the complaint, the defendants made unsubstantiated advertising claims that:

Primal Defense treats intractable immune disorders, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, lupus, colds, flu, and Crohn’s disease, and reduces users’ blood cholesterol levels;

RM-10 treats cancer, helps lower users’ blood cholesterol levels, prevents and treats cardiovascular disease, and treats immune system disorders;

Living Multi reduces the risk factor for diabetes and prevents diabetes-related syndromes, reduces the risk of obesity, and reduces inflammation; and

FYI (For Your Inflammation) treats and prevents inflammation, including inflammation caused by arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, sports injuries, asthma, allergies, fibromyalgia, lupus, scleroderma, and other inflammatory conditions.

The FTC also alleged that the defendants made false claims that clinical studies prove that:

Primal Defense reduces users’ blood cholesterol levels by 25 percent or more; improves users’ energy levels, memory, and concentration; and mitigates the symptoms of most patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia stage II;

RM-10 treats immune system disorders and cancer;

Living Multi has a proven nutritional formula; and

FYI treats rheumatoid arthritis and reduces the effects of inflammation.

Garden of Life and Jordan Rubin will pay $225,000 in consumer redress as part of the settlement. If it is found they misrepresented their financial status, they will be responsible for the full judgment of more than $47 million – the total gross sales of the four dietary supplements. The settlement also prohibits the defendants from making claims similar to the ones challenged in the FTC’s complaint, unless they have competent and reliable scientific evidence substantiating the claims. Furthermore, the settlement requires the defendants to have such evidence whenever they make any claim about the health benefits, performance, efficacy, safety, or side effects of any food, drug, or dietary supplement, or any program that includes such a product. The defendants also are prohibited from misrepresenting the results of any test or study when marketing such products and programs.