FTC Focuses on “Natural” Cases

Four companies that market skin care products, shampoos, and sunscreens have reached a settlement with the FTC on charges that they falsely claimed that their products were “all natural” or “100% natural,” despite the fact that they contain artificial ingredients or chemicals.

These companies each entered into a settlement with the FTC, whereby they are barred from making misrepresentations regarding (1) whether the product is all natural or 100% natural, (2) the extent to which the product contains any synthetic components, (3) the ingredients or composition of a product, and (4) the environmental or health benefits of a product. In addition, each must have competent and reliable evidence to substantiate any ingredient-related, environmental, or health claim that it makes. Notably, certain claims require scientific evidence, which is defined as tests, analyses, research, or studies that have been conducted and evaluated objectively by qualified individuals. These evaluations must use procedures that are generally accepted in the profession to yield accurate and reliable results.

Each of these agreements is subject to public comment for 30 days following the proposed consent orders, which will continue through May 12. At that time, the commission will decide whether to make the proposed consent orders final.

A. In the Matter of: Trans-India Products, Inc., FTC Docket No. 152 3265 (April 12, 2016).

Trans-India Products, Inc., doing business as ShiKai, marketed “All Natural Hand and Body Lotion” and “All Natural Moisturizing Shower Gel” directly and through third-party websites, but the lotions contained synthetic ingredients.

B. In the Matter of: The Erickson Marketing Group Inc., FTC Docket No. 152 3268 (April 12, 2016).

Erickson Marketing Group, doing business as Rocky Mountain Sunscreen, used its website to falsely promote products it marketed as “all natural.” For example, its “Face Stick SPF 60 All Natural Sunscreen” contains synthetic ingredients.

C. In the Matter of: ABS Consumer Products, LLC, FTC Docket No. 152 3269 (April 12, 2016).

ABS Consumer Products, doing business as EDEN BodyWorks, marketed haircare products through its own website and at Walmart.com. It made “all natural” claims for products including “Coconut Shea All Natural Curl Defining Cream” and “Coconut Shea All Natural Leave In Conditioner.” However, these products contain a host of artificial ingredients.

D. In the Matter of: Beyond Coastal, FTC Docket No. 162 3001 (April 12, 2016).

Beyond Costal, used its website to sell “Natural Sunscreen SPF 30,” describing it as “100% natural.” In reality, this product also contains synthetic ingredients.

In addition to these four settled cases, the Commission has filed a complaint against a fifth company for making similar claims.

E. In the Matter of:California Naturel, Inc., FTC Docket No. 1523267 (April 12, 2016).

FTC claims California Naturel, Inc., markets through its website “all natural sunscreen.” Nevertheless the product contains Dimethicone, which is a synthetic ingredient.

Take away: These cases illustrate the importance of having scientific or factual data to support specific natural claims in advertising. We therefore advise companies to be certain there is support for and truth to the claims they make about products, especially when tied to allegedly “all natural” products that actually contain artificial ingredients.

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