Full refund for jade eggs and flower oils in the offing

You Put It Where?!

The Goop saga has been hard to miss, but in case you’ve been hidden away under a rock (“earthing,” Goop would call it), here it is in a nutshell.

Goop is the brainchild of Hollywood A-lister Gwyneth Paltrow, who launched the company in 2008 to promote a series of health and wellness products. It grew into a big enterprise, worth about $250 million in 2018. But …

A cloud of negativity has troubled the sunshine-and-light-suffused company from the beginning. Skeptics have continuously taken on Goop’s product offerings and the claims that promote them: everything from aromatic stress treatments, healing stickers and medicine bags to jade eggs marketed as promoting vaginal health.

We’ve reported on these troubles before. Concurrently, Paltrow’s public profile took a series of hits, earning her the reputation (fairly or not) of being an out-of-touch celebrity.

Bulldogs

Truth in Advertising, Inc. (TINA) took aim at Goop in the summer of 2017, building up a database of 50 of the company’s products and their related health claims. On top of that, the organization sent a missive to two California county district attorneys’ offices outlining the health claims and urging an investigation. TINA has taken it upon itself to monitor Goop’s activities, even going so far as to attend the June 2017 “In Goop Health” conference held in Los Angeles, where it gained additional information about some of Goop’s products.

A year later, in June 2018, TINA alleged that Goop had mostly ignored its recommendations – the company had allegedly removed only 19 of the 50-plus claims made on the Goop website – in a second letter to the district attorneys. This time, a response was forthcoming.

The Takeaway

Ten California counties recently filed suit against Goop alleging unsupported medical claims in its product marketing, specifically as they related to the company’s Jade and Rose Quartz vaginal egg products. The parties reached a settlement in very short order in early September 2018. Among other things, Goop agreed to refrain, for five years, from marketing nutritional supplements and medical devices that have an effect on certain conditions, disorders or diseases, or that are otherwise marketed in a manner that is deceptive or inconsistent with federal Food and Drug Administration monographs, conditions of use and/or approvals. Goop also agreed to restrict nutritional supplement and medical device claims to those supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence in its possession that substantiates the claim prior to making the claim.

The egg products are still available for purchase on the Goop website; however, Goop is required to pay full refunds to those who purchased its Jade and Rose Quartz Eggs between Jan. 12 and Aug. 31, 2017, which the California counties claim it marketed to “balance hormones, regulate menstrual cycles, prevent uterine prolapse, and increase bladder control.” Purchasers of Goop’s Inner Judge Flower Essence Blend – flower oil extracts that were billed as preventing depression – will receive a full refund as well.

Additionally, Goop is required to pay $145,000 in civil penalties and agrees to cease advertising products with medical benefits that are not supported by “competent and reliable scientific evidence.”

This is a good example of local authorities enforcing consumer protection laws, and California counties have been particularly active in this regard. Marketers should also take note of regulatory scrutiny of health and wellness claims and the heightened standard for substantiation that applies when such claims are made.