VANCOUVER, Wash.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 27, 2004--
Northwest Natural Products, Inc., manufacturers of Gummy Vites(R), one of the nation's leading children's vitamins, today vigorously defended the safety and efficacy of its product against what it called false and misleading statements concerning alleged lead levels in the vitamin. The company has charged ConsumerLab.com, a company that holds itself out to be a "public watchdog," with knowingly disseminating false and misleading information, and causing "substantial damage ... to NNP's reputation in the marketplace."
Late last week, Tod Cooperman, president of ConsumerLab.com, appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America," where he charged Gummy Vites with containing lead levels "way over any kind of standard." Cooperman implied that Gummy Vites in stores contained unacceptable, and potentially unhealthful, quantities of lead.
"That information is completely false," said Kate Jones, president of Northwest Natural Products. "As the owner of this company and the mother of two small children, I take product safety very seriously, and Gummy Vites are absolutely safe for children. My own children take them."
In response to facts presented by NNP, ABC News yanked the story from its website and launched its own investigation.
Not only are the alleged test results highly suspect, but even if they were correct, the levels ConsumerLab.com reported are well below FDA guidelines. According to a report prepared by nationally renowned toxicologist James W. Embree, Ph.D., DABT, of Geomatrix Consultants, Inc., ConsumerLab.com's alleged results and the methodology used must be called into question. Based on available data, Embree stated that the results of ConsumerLab.com's test, and the criterion upon which the results were evaluated, "do not appear correct."
"By comparison, the testing we commissioned using known, approved methodologies on multiple lots of product detected" levels "barely above the detection limits of the most sensitive analytical technique," according to Embree. "As experts in vitamins, it is our opinion that ConsumerLab.com should have questioned whether" their own results were reasonable. According to Embree, ConsumerLab.com's results "do not appear reasonable and therefore should be suspect."
"ConsumerLab.com positions itself as an independent consumer watchdog group," according to Jones. "But, in fact, it is a for-profit company that is in the business of selling its 'seal of approval' for a fee." More than eight months ago, NNP was approached on behalf of ConsumerLab.com to see if NNP was interested in utilizing the ConsumerLab.com "seal of approval" as part of NNP's marketing strategy. The cost of that approval can be as high as $22,000. NNP declined the offer. NNP pointed out that ConsumerLab.com's written contract promises that "If the (tested) Product does not pass, (ConsumerLab.com) will not reveal to any third party that the Product was tested ..." Hence, any company listed on the ConsumerLab.com website with a "failed" product has not paid any money to ConsumerLab.com.