The US Federal Trade Commission has begun legal proceedings against Enforma Natural Products after the company failed to comply with its May 2000 ruling that it substantiate claims made in relation to weight loss products.
The FTC has asked the court to order the defendants to stop using the trade names for the products. Since the ruling in May 2000, Enforma has continued to advertise two alleged weight loss supplements, Fat Trapper Plus and Exercise In A Bottle, using unsubstantiated and misleading representations, according to the FTC.
Enforma broadcast two infomercials for its weight loss products, Fat Trapper and Exercise In A Bottle, collectively referred to as the 'Enforma System'. The infomercials featured former professional baseball player Steve Garvey and an actress described as a nutritionist, extolling the miracle of the Enforma System.
The infomercials stated, among many other claims, that "Fat Trapper blocks fat from foods", that Exercise In A Bottle works to burn calories "even while resting", and that consumers would "never, ever, ever, ever have to diet again."
Enforma agreed to pay $10 million in April 2000 to settle FTC allegations that their claims were deceptive. That agreement also prohibited the company from making unsubstantiated claims in the future and required them to disclose in advertising that dieting and/or exercise are required to lose weight.
The order also specifically prohibits Enforma from making unsubstantiated claims through the use of the names "Fat Trapper," "Fat Trapper Plus," and "Exercise In A Bottle" unless it can show competent and reliable scientific evidence to support the product claims.
The FTC said that while the infomercials had now been stopped, Enforma has continued to advertise Fat Trapper Plus and Exercise In A Bottle in other media.
In its application for civil contempt sanctions, the FTC alleges that Enforma has not provided any competent and reliable scientific evidence that Fat Trapper Plus in fact "traps fat." Thus, according to the FTC, Enforma continues to violate the order by using the name "Fat Trapper Plus" to communicate that the product actually traps dietary fat when taken at the recommended dose and therefore contributes to weight loss.
Similarly, the FTC alleges that the trade name "Exercise In A Bottle" conveys that the product, when taken at the recommended dose, provides some of the health or weight loss benefits of exercise, such as increased metabolism. According to the FTC's civil contempt application, Enforma has not provided any competent and reliable evidence that either product performs as represented, and are therefore violating the court's order.
The Commission's application is scheduled for a hearing on February 4, 2002. As ultimate relief, the FTC seeks excision of the trade names "Fat Trapper," "Fat Trapper Plus," and "Exercise In A Bottle." If the court agrees that trade name excision is warranted, the FTC's application further requests that all products bearing the deceptive and misleading trade names be immediately recalled..