Ten counties in California settled with Irwin Naturals, Inc., a dietary supplement distributor, for $2.65 million over charges of unfair competition and false advertising. District attorneys in these counties alleged testing revealed that the company’s Hoodia products – like the Dual Action Cleanse, Fast Action Hoodia Diet, and the 10‑Day Hoodia Diet – didn’t actually contain any of the Hoodia gordonii herb, contrary to the product labels, and they sought an injunction against the company for false advertising and misbranding, as well as violation of Proposition 65.
The ballot measure requires companies to include a warning label on products that contain more than 0.5 micrograms of lead in a daily serving. Tests revealed that some of the company’s products (the Green Tea Fat Metabolizer, System Six, and Green Tea Fat Meltdown) contained more than 0.5 micrograms of lead per daily dose, 10 times the allowed daily level of lead, according to the complaint, while the Green Tea Fat Burner product tested at 14 times the limit.
California State Judge David McEachen approved the settlement. Los Angeles-based Irwin Naturals agreed to pay a total of $2.65 million: $1.95 million in civil penalties, $600,000 in costs, and up to $100,000 in restitution to California consumers. In addition, the company agreed to accurately market and sell its products and include appropriate lead warnings if necessary.
In a statement, a company spokesperson said Irwin Naturals stands by its products: “This settlement acknowledges that our products are safe and that we are in compliance with California laws.”
According to the statement, the company did not agree that it intentionally mislabeled or falsely advertised its products, and noted that it could not confirm the DA’s testing of the Hoodia products “because no validated test method exists for identifying Hoodia in the softgel product form” used by the company. “The company relied instead on the industry standard method of confirming the input of Hoodia, and all manufacturing records confirmed that Hoodia had been put into the products.”
To read the Orange County District Attorney’s press release announcing the settlement, click here.
Why it matters: The Orange County District Attorney’s office said the settlement was the largest multijurisdictional settlement in the state involving a dietary supplement manufacturer. Dietary supplement manufacturers should be cognizant of state enforcement actions, in addition to increased scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration.