Natural Foods Merchandiser

FTC Cracks Down On False Anthrax Claims

No dietary supplement will prevent or treat anthrax, or any other disease recently associated with bio-terrorism, warned both the federal government and industry leaders. Claims that substances such as oregano oil, zinc mineral water, colloidal silver or thyme can be used against anthrax—which the Federal Trade Commission found during a Web site search—are false, the agency said. "The FTC is aware of no scientific basis for any of the self-treatment alternatives being marketed on the Internet," said Howard Beales, FTC's director of consumer protection. "Essentially, these operators need to shut down these areas of their sites or face prosecution. Our best advice for consumers [is], consult your physician immediately if you believe you may have been exposed to anthrax or any other biological agents."

For the supplements industry, it's yet another case of one-rotten-apple-that-makes-bad-press-for-the-entire-barrel. Industry leaders spoke out forcefully against the anthrax-treatment claims. Loren Israelsen, president of the LDI Group, a consulting firm in Salt Lake City, said in a memo sent to other industry members: "This kind of behavior is unacceptable and will bring the entire DS [dietary supplements] industry into disrepute. [It] will likely trigger a rash of blistering media attacks as well as congressional action."

David Seckman, executive director and CEO of the National Nutritional Foods Association, said, "Even the vaguest information that a product or combination of products will ward off or cure anthrax infection will be widely viewed as preying on fears of the public."

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIII/number 1/p. 8

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