This past week, several consumer protection and regulatory actions made headlines:
FTC Issues Closing Letter in Bedrock “Made in USA” Labeling Investigation
On June 16, 2016, the FTC issued a closing letter in its investigation of Bedrock Manufacturing Company, the parent of Filson and Shinola. The FTC had raised concerns regarding Bedrock’s unqualified use of the phrases “Made in USA” and “Built in USA.” Despite using these labels, many of Shinola and Filson’s products were made with materials mostly or entirely sourced from outside of the US. The FTC closed its investigation as a result of Bedrock’s self-imposed corrective actions, including replacing hangtags and information cards for various products, updating employee training materials and advertising materials, and changing labelling integrated on the products themselves.
FTC Returning Over $6 Million to Consumers Duped by Weight-Loss Book
The Federal Trade Commission is sending about $6.3 million in checks to partially reimburse consumers who bought “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About.” In 2009, a federal judge found that the author, Kevin Trudeau, had violated a 2004 FTC stipulated order when he misrepresented the content of the book. At the time, the judge ordered Trudeau to pay victims over $37 million to compensate for consumer loss. Despite claims that he did not have the money to pay back consumers, a court-appointed receiver located a portion of the money, which the FTC is now sending back to consumer.
Post Foods Facing Three Lawsuits Over Shredded Wheat “Natural” Label
Three lawsuits have alleged that labels on Post Foods’ Shredded Wheat cereal were false or misleading. Suits against Post Foods were filed in New York, California, and Washington, D.C. The lawsuits allege that labels on Shredded Wheat falsely claim that the food is “100 percent natural whole grain wheat,” when testing has shown that the cereal also contains a weed killer that is also a suspected carcinogen. The New York suit alleges false advertising, failure to warn and mislabeling. The California suit alleges unfair competition, unfair business practices and false advertising. The D.C. complaint alleges violations of the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act.
Jury Finds Flu Maker Did Not Engage in False Advertising
A California jury found that Boiron, maker of the Oscillococcinum (or “Oscillo”) homeopathic remedy, did not engage in false advertising. The class of consumers alleged that Oscillo’s packaging falsely claimed that it provided relief to flu symptoms. Boiron was able to point to clinical studies showing that patients who took Oscillo reported greater relief of headaches and fever than those who took placebos. The trial is now in a second bench phase focusing on allegations that Boiron also engaged in deceptive business practices.