FTC Charges National Dietary Research with Deceptive Advertising
of Its Weight-Loss and Cholesterol-Lowering Products
Agency Also Seeks Court Order to Halt Ads
FTC News Release
November 18, 1993
National Dietary Research, Inc. (NDR), a Washington, DC-based company, has been charged by the Federal Trade Commission in an administrative complaint with making deceptive and unsubstantiated claims for two products: one a purported weight-loss product, Food Source One (FS-1); and the other a purported cholesterol-reducing products, Vancol 5000 (Vancol).
The Commission also has filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, in Tampa, seeking a preliminary injunction to halt NDR's alleged deceptive claims for FS-1 during the pendency of the litigation of the FTC administrative complaint.
The FTC's administrative complaint detailing the charges further charged that NDR misrepresented that it is a bona fide, independent research organization, and that certain of its newspaper advertisements were news stories.
The Commission's complaints name as respondents NDR, The William H. Morris Company, based in Tampa, FL; and, William H. Morris, the president and owner of both companies.
FOOD SOURCE ONE
According to the complaints, the respondents advertised and sold FS-1, a compressed tablet made largely from plant fiber, as a weight-loss product. The administrative complaint alleges the respondents claimed in the ads that FS-1:
- causes significant weight loss without dieting;
- is an effective treatment for obesity;
- reduces hunger and is an effective appetite suppressant;
- decreases the intestinal absorption of calories; and
- may significantly reduce serum (blood) cholesterol.
The administrative complaint further charges that the respondents did not have a reasonable basis to substantiate these claims at the time they were made.
According to the administrative complaint, the respondents also claimed that scientific studies demonstrated that FS-1 is an effective weight-loss product, that FS-1 has a high fiber content, and that NDR is an independent research organization that has conducted research on ending worldwide health problems. The FTC alleged that these claims are false and misleading. Finally, the administrative complaint charges that certain newspaper advertisements for FS-1 were represented falsely to be independent newspaper stories.
According to the administrative complaint, the respondents also advertised and sold Vancol, a compressed tablet made from plant fiber and other substances. The administrative complaint charges that the respondents made unsubstantiated claims that Vancol would significantly reduce serum cholesterol, and that it would do so without changes in diet or eating habits. The FTC also alleged that the respondents falsely claimed that the effectiveness of Vancol was demonstrated by scientific studies. Finally, according to the administrative complaint, the respondents represented, without a reasonable basis, that consumer testimonials appearing in the Vancol ads reflected the typical experience of consumers who have used the product.
The notice order, attached to the administrative complaint, would prohibit the respondents from making any claims about weight loss, hunger reduction, calorie absorption, cholesterol reduction, or any other health benefits of any product or program they advertise or sell, unless the claims are substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence.
The FTC's notice order also would prohibit the respondents from making any false claims about:
- test results;
- the amount of fiber or other dietary constituent in any product or program;
- a product being a high or rich source of fiber or other dietary constituent; or
- the purpose or activities of NDR or any other organization.
In addition, if the notice order is adopted, the respondents would be prohibited from representing that any advertisement is something other than a paid ad, and from claiming that an endorsement is typical of the experience of consumers who use the product, unless that claim is substantiated.
Finally, the notice order would include various reporting requirements to assist the FTC in monitoring the respondents' compliance with its provisions.
The Commission vote to issue the administrative complaint and notice order, and to file the complaint for preliminary injunction, was 5-0.
- Civil Action No. 93-1952-CIV (Middle District of Florida). FTC File No. 912-3340. Docket No. D-9263.
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This page was posted on August 27, 2006.