The Federal Trade Commission has decided not to take action against ConsumerLab.com in response to a complaint filed by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) in January.
?The staff has decided not to take action at this time,? an FTC spokeswoman said, ?and this is the only comment I can make.?
In its March 15 letter, FTC associate director Mary Engle stated that ?Staff is not recommending agency action at this time. The commission reserves the right, however, to take such further action as the public interest may require.?
In its complaint, CRN accused ConsumerLab of pressuring companies to pay a fee to avoid negative test results from being published. ConsumerLab president Tod Cooperman denied the charges. CRN also charged that the lab?s test results ?are likely to mislead consumers into believing that ConsumerLab is operating in the public interest and cannot be influenced by any outside party.?
CRN president Annette Dickinson was disappointed by the decision. ?We are disappointed by the FTC?s failure to act, and stand by the facts set forth in our complaint,? she said. ?We remain convinced that FTC should look closely at the business activities of ConsumerLab.com.?
Cooperman said he felt vindicated. ?We were not surprised at all by the FTC action and were pleased they responded so quickly to this baseless complaint,? he said. ?We are absolutely going to keep going forward as we have, to continue our work and our expansion internationally.?
ConsumerLab has announced it will take legal action against CRN and its executives for what it calls the association?s ?defamatory attack.?
Founded in 1999, ConsumerLab has tested more than 1,200 vitamins and supplements and reported problems with one quarter of the products. The results of its first tests on dietary supplements in a non-English-speaking country — Japan — were to be released in April.
By any measure, the government?s action was quick for an agency that literally receives millions of complaints against businesses each year, and often doesn?t respond to many of them.