FTC to continue policing marketers, with focus on health fraud

By Clarisse Douaud

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Dietary supplements, Ftc, Advertising, Federal trade commission, Fraud

The Federal Trade Commission has said that it will continue to
prioritize policing dietary supplement marketing practices, thereby
sending out a warning to companies making exaggerated or
unsubstantiated claims.

In its Fiscal Year 2008 Congressional Budget Justification summary, the federal authority highlighted health products, including dietary supplements, as a key area on which it will be keeping an eye. It also revealed a heavy investment in a consumer media campaign set to educate consumers to be critical. This reassertion of FTC's position not only serves as a signal to would-be infringers that the agency will come after them, but also as an indicator for the responsible side of the dietary supplement industry that those who operate under due diligence will be in the clear. "The deceptive marketing of products that may affect consumer health and safety will continue to be an FTC priority," said the FTC in its budget request summary submitted to Congress on February 5. "The FTC will focus on health care products, including dietary supplements." The authority rang in the New Year with a $25m-clamp-down on parties behind the deceptive marketing of four major weight-control supplements: Xenadrine EFX, CortiSlim, TrimSpa, and One-A-Day WeightSmart. "Consumer demand for such products is increasing, and fraudulent or deceptive claims about these products can pose risks to consumers' well-being," continues the summary. "Going forward, the FTC will continue its aggressive program by focusing its law enforcement on violations that create the greatest risks to consumer health." The agency's budget requests for 2008 include a $2m media literacy initiative, designed to reach out to children and impact how they analyze advertising now and in their future. The understanding behind this, according to the government body, is that children now influence virtually everything their parents buy. "The goals of this initiative are to raise awareness of advertising and marketing messages; increase knowledge of how to skillfully read, analyze, and appreciate an advertisement; show the benefits of being an informed consumer; and help build partnerships to leverage agency resources and education messages." This plan relates to advertising of all products and not just supplements. However, FTC has highlighted food as an important player for youth-targeted advertising. "As part of the FTC's initiative to protect children, we request additional funds to support our Congressionally endorsed efforts to promote industry self regulation in the marketing of entertainment and food to children."

Related topics: Regulation

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