The Federal Trade Commission recently entered into settlement agreements with four manufacturers of various personal care products in which each company agreed to discontinue online advertising claims that their products are “all natural” or “100% natural.”
The FTC alleged the claims were false since each of the products contained certain synthetic ingredients, including dimethicone, ethyhexyl glycerin, phenoxyethanol, polyethylene, butyloctyl salicylate, neopentyl glycol diethylhexanoate, polyquaternium-37, polyquaternium-7, and caprylyl glycol. The products that were the subject of the investigation included an “all natural” hand and body lotions and moisturizing gel; an “all natural” “Face Stick”; “all natural” hair care products; and a “100% natural” sunscreen.
The terms of the settlement agreement prohibit the companies from misrepresenting that their products are “all natural” or “100% natural,” or the extent to which a product contains any natural or synthetic components. These companies also cannot make misleading claims as to a product’s overall ingredients and composition. Moreover, the settlements require competent and reliable evidence for any product claims, including environmental and health benefit claims. The FTC issued a separate administrative complaint against a fifth company, California Naturel, Inc., for selling an “all natural sunscreen” that contains dimethicone.
TIP: While consumer plaintiffs have increasingly challenged “all natural” and “100% natural” claims for food and other household products in recent years, this appears to be the first such action by the FTC. The FTC has previously declined to issue specific guidance on the meaning of “all natural,” but unsurprisingly the FTC determined in these cases that such a claim was deceptive because the products at issue include one or more synthetic ingredients.