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NAD Reviews Portable UV-C Light Product Advertised on TV (Case #6426, 12/10/20)

In a quintessential Covid-era case, following part of its routine monitoring program, the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau (“NAD”) requested substantiation for claims made by Ontel Products Corporation in respect of its “Safe & Healthy” branded portable UV-C sanitizing light.

The express claims reviewed by NAD included those listed below:  

“With all the news about health risks and pandemics, what can you do to protect your family? When germs are everywhere you go and on everything you touch?

“Everything you touch stays germ-free in just seconds. Your kitchen is safer to cook in, your bathroom is cleaner than ever.”

“Safe & Healthy is inspired by high frequency UVC light technology used in hospitals proven to kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria.”

“Safe & Healthy goes where they (cleaners and wipes) can’t go and does what they can’t do on things you would never spray or wipe with chemicals (image of infant’s highchair shown).”

“Safe & Healthy is inspired by high frequency UVC light technology used in hospitals proven to kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria.”

“Just wave the wand and germs are gone.”

NAD also cited implied claims including that the Safe & Healthy product can protect users against COVID-19 and that disinfecting sprays and wipes are ineffective in killing viruses and bacteria.

NAD noted in its decision that it continues to be particularly concerned with health and safety claims as to which consumers are unable to verify.  NAD recognized that anxious and frightened consumers who are seeking to protect their families from COVID-19 are particularly susceptible. 

The advertiser maintained that the challenged claims did not air on television after June 3, 2020, and that it was a limited-run product, with limited inventory.  NAD recognized advertiser’s permanent discontinuance of the challenged claims and treated same as recommended discontinuance. NAD pointed out also that third-party retailers whose webpages feature advertiser’s inaccurate and unsupported claims should also take steps to ensure that such claims are discontinued.

TAKEAWAY:  This action demonstrates that NAD, like the FTC, is reviewing and taking action on advertising claims related to coronavirus and potential health benefits.  This is also an area in which there will likely be increased competitor challenges before NAD and courts alike given ongoing consumer and market concerns surrounding the pandemic.

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