Los Angeles forces $1.75 million pact with Rainbow Light over lead in prenatal vitamins

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

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Getty Images
Supplement brand Rainbow Light has come to a $1.75 million settlement with Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer over claims the company was making about lead levels in its products.

According to Feuer, the brand, which is owned by The Clorox Company, had made claims about its prenatal vitamin products they were “free of heavy metals” and were made with materials “with the lowest detectable lead level” on the market.

‘Free from’ claim not borne out in testing

But Feuer claimed his office had the products tested at a third party lab, which allegedly found that the products contained detectable levels of lead.

Feuer said when his office brought the discrepancy to the attention of the company it acted quickly to remove the allegedly misleading advertising.

Products met Prop 65 standards

Rainbow Light, for its part, said its products conform with existing state and federal standards and said that the levels that Feuer was seeking were below what it commonly contained in the diet as a matter of course, and comply with California’s Prop 65 levels, which is one of the most stringent standards in the US.

Feuer’s office agreed that the products were below the Prop 65 lead limit of 0.5 milligrams per day. But his office said the levels are based on old science and recently state legislators have considered lowering the acceptable level to 0.2 micrograms per day. Feuer’s office said independent testing revealed that multiple Rainbow Light prenatal vitamins initially tested above 0.2 micrograms per daily serving.

“Rainbow Light wants women to understand that our prenatal and postnatal vitamins are safe and have less lead than you could find in a typical serving of spinach. Because our vitamins include plant- and mineral-based ingredients, they contain trace elements of lead and other heavy metals. However, these naturally occurring trace amounts are below California’s Proposition 65 standards, which is one of the strictest regulations in the US governing the safety of water, food and consumer products,” ​the company said in a statement issued to NutraIngredients-USA.

“We strive to make the highest-quality vitamins possible and have taken steps to further reduce these already trace levels. We are pleased to have resolved legal claims raised by the Los Angeles City Attorney related to certain language that was previously on our website,”​ the company concluded.

Additional details

The settlement also includes a protocol agreed to by Rainbow Light in which the company commits to a rigorous testing protocol that will reduce lead level in its prenatal vitamins below existing state and federal standards.

“Scientists agree there is no safe level of lead for pregnant moms and their developing fetuses. Those moms have the right to expect the safest possible prenatal vitamins,” ​said Feuer. “This settlement not only stops Rainbow Light’s allegedly false advertising, it commits the company to rigorous testing and reporting that will meaningfully reduce exposure to lead.”

In addition to this testing requirement and an injunction prohibiting Rainbow Light from engaging in false advertising, Feuer’s settlement also requires Rainbow Light to pay $250,000 in civil penalties and costs, and additionally, to provide $1.5 million in restitution to California consumers who have purchased Rainbow Light prenatal vitamins in the past four years.

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