FTC Charges Nature's Way Products' Ads for "Cantrol"
Were False and Unsubstantiated
Company to Pay $30,000 for Medical Research, under Consent Agreement
FTC News Release
January 26, 1990
The Federal Trade Commission has charged Nature's Way Products with making unsubstantiated claims in advertising that "Cantrol" capsules fight yeast infections. Under a consent agreement announced today for public comment, the company agreed not to make unsubstantiated claims about certain nutritional supplements in the future and also agreed to pay $30,000 to the National Institutes of Health to support research in candidiasis or the effects of yeast on health.
The complaint charges that the company advertised Cantrol with a 14-question, diagnostic "yeast test," with such questions as "Do you feel tired most of the time?" and "Do you suffer from swing moods or depression?" The ad claimed that "If you answered 6 or more questions with a 'yes,' the probability is high to very high that you, like so many others, have a yeast infection." These ads were carried in national magazines such as American Health, Shape, and Let's Live.
The ads claimed that yeast (candida albicans) "can sometimes grow rapidly due to a variety of conditions," but that "Cantrol's high potency formula helps keep yeast colonies from overpopulating in the intestines where they grow."
The complaint charges that the "yeast test" does not demonstrate that a person is likely to have a yeast infection. It also charges that Nature's Way did not have a reasonable basis for its claim that consumption of Cantrol controls adverse effects on health commonly caused by excessive levels of yeast in the intestines and controls vaginal yeast infections.
Under the consent agreement, Nature's Way agreed not to misrepresent, in advertising for any food supplements, any self-diagnostic test concerning yeast conditions. In addition, the company must not make any representation concerning any food supplement's ability to control yeast conditions, unless it can substantiate the claim. It also agreed not to represent that Cantrol or any other food supplement containing certain ingredients can cure, treat, prevent, or reduce the risk of developing any disease, unless the company can substantiate the representation. Those ingredients are acidophilus, Evening Primrose Oil (EPO), Pau D'Arco, linseed oil, caprylic acid and vitamin E.
In lieu of redress, Nature's Way agreed to pay $30,000 to the National Institutes of Health, to fund research into yeast conditions.
The complaint and agreement name Nature's Way Products Inc., its management company Murdock International Corp., and Kenneth Murdock, the president of both companies. They are all based in Springville, Utah.
The Commission vote to accept the consent agreement for public comment was 4-1, with Commissioner Andrew J. Strenio, Jr., dissenting. In a separate statement, Strenio said:
Since the prima facie case is so strong and involves public health considerations, the Commission should not settle for so little." He said that he felt the injunctive relief requiring substantiation for any disease prevention claims should cover all dietary, food, or nutritional supplements rather than be limited to the ingredients found in Cantrol. He also indicated that the $30,000 payment to NIH was too low, saying "consumer spending for Cantrol purchases during the time in question was roughly $6,000,000. Thus, although the $30,000 figure might have been tolerable if taken together with sweetened injunctive relief, the public ought not be forced to swallow it here.
- FTC File No. 862-3073. Decision, 113 FTC 293.
This page was posted on August 27, 2006.