MLM founded on benefits of berry species advised to drop health claims
Visi was founded by a group of direct selling industry veterans to capitalize on the purported health benefits of the botanical Rubus chamaemorus, which the company refers to as the Arctic Cloudberry. It is a low growing berry species that can be found in many locations in the Northern Hemisphere.
Claims of benefit, but no substantiation
Visi, which is based in Pleasant Grove, UT, uses the berry as a hero ingredient in a number of dietary supplements. The company also prominently features hydrolyzed collagen as an ingredient, and markets a line of essential oils meant for topical applications and for diffusion.
In a ruling posted last week, the Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC) of BBB National Programs recommended that Visi discontinue certain health claims for which there was insufficient scientific backing.
For the cloudberry itself, the DSSRC recommended that Visi drop the claim: “…the arctic cloudberry, which stands alone in offering an array of nutritional and healing properties…”
Other cited health claims included:
- “Collagen helps turn back the clock. Maintaining adequate collagen levels can help you prevent (and sometimes reverse) wrinkling and sagging skin. And it can also effectively promote thicker and glowing hair, hard-as-nails nails, and even improve your eyesight. It helps prevent disease.”
- Protects against damaging bacteria, viruses, pollutants and free radicals…”
- “Detoxifies foreign compounds such as carcinogens and harmful metabolites…Adds extra years to your life by preventing the onset of heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, and Parkinson’s disease.”
- “I started Collagen chews about 6 months ago and my back hasn’t felt this good in years!!”
Over-the-top weight loss claims
In addition to the health claims, the DSSRC ruling also found that the company was spreading over-the-top weight loss messages. These included claims of having 75 pounds up to 170 pounds.
The ruling noted that the company did not provide substantiation for any of the testimonial claims. It also did not prominently display notices that results achieved by individuals were not typical.
Visi managed to avoid getting on the radar of the Federal Trade Commission when in April of 2020 it sent out multiple warning letters to MLMs that were making disease treatment claims or were being overly optimistic about earnings potential or both.
However, Visi was among the more than 1,100 businesses engaged in direct selling or in the ‘gig economy’ generally that received notices from FTC in 2021 warning them against making false earnings claims. That action noted that FTC could levy a fine of about $44,000 for each violation.