The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has charged a group of Delaware-based supplement suppliers with making false and deceptive claims surrounding the sale of hoodia gordonii, or in some cases, an adulterated hoodia product. The complaint names four individuals who were employed by Nutraceuticals International or Stella Labs as being the parties liable for the charges.
The individuals allegedly provided customers with documents touting the following false claims: that it would enable consumers to lose weight and suppress appetites; that it was scientifically proven to suppress appetite, resulting in weight loss; that it was clinically proven to reduce caloric intake by 1,000 to 2,000 calories per day; that it was derived from South African Hoodia gordonii; and that hoodia was an effective treatment for obesity. The FTC hopes to permanently bar the defendants from deceptively advertising hoodia and a forfeiture of the profits obtained from sales of their hoodia products.
While this appears to be an isolated incident, the case underscores the concerns that remain about the dietary supplement industry's ability to police itself, both at a supply and finished goods level. Cases like this where the FTC is forced to get involved only serve to tarnish the reputation of the entire industry. In NBJ's upcoming Direct Selling in the Nutrition Industry issue, we will take an in-depth look at the claims being made by supplement manufacturers and marketers on the internet, and the difficulties the FTC faces in trying to regulate the disparate e-commerce markets. To download a free sample issue of Nutrition Business Journal, including content from the 2008 Direct Selling issue, please visit our subscriber page.