April 13th, 2016
Federal Trade Commission Speaks on Use of “All Natural” and “100% Natural” Claims in Advertising
The Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") joined the widely publicized "natural" products debate by issuing four settlements and bringing a new complaint relating to misleading "all natural" or "100% natural" advertising claims.
In the four proposed settlements and new complaint, the FTC alleged that the companies - advertisers of shampoos and styling products, sunscreen, and skincare products, respectively - used "all natural" or "100% natural" to advertise their products when the products actually contained synthetic ingredients. These cases bring some much-needed clarity for natural products marketers. Here's a rundown:
- ABS Consumer Products, LLC (d/b/a EDEN BodyWorks), which sells haircare products, advertised "Coconut Shea All Natural Styling Elixir" and "Jojoba Monoi All Natural Shampoo" when these products contained non-natural ingredients like Polyquaternium-7, Polyquaternium-37, Caprylyl Glycol, and Phenoxyethanol.
- Beyond Coastal marketed its sunscreen as "100% natural" when the product contained Dimethicone.
- Erickson Marketing Group (d/b/a Rocky Mountain Sunscreen) promoted its sunscreen on its website as "natural" and "all natural" even though the products contained synthetic ingredients like Dimethicone and Polyethylene.
- Trans-India Products, Inc. (d/b/a ShiKai), advertised its body lotions, hand lotions and moisturizers as "All Natural" when the products contained various synthetic ingredients, including Dimethicone, Ethyhexyl Glycerin, and Phenoxyethanol.
- The FTC also issued a complaint against California Naturel, Inc. over its "all natural" advertising for its sunscreen product that contains Dimethicone.
According to the settlement agreements, the companies must now avoid misrepresenting: 1) that their product(s) are "all natural" or "100 percent natural"; 2) the extent to which their product(s) contain natural or synthetic components; 3) the ingredients or composition of any of their products; and 4) the environmental or health benefits of any of their products.
"Natural" claims have been the focus of significant litigation in recent years - fueled in part by the lack of a consistent regulatory definition of what constitutes a "natural" product. Both the Food and Drug Administration and the National Advertising Division ("NAD") have determined that natural claims are supported for food products if "nothing artificial or synthetic (including color additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in the food." Additionally, NAD has determined that ingredients that undergo significant chemical alteration should not be called "natural." These new cases from the FTC provide much-needed guidance to advertisers making "natural" claims and may help to prompt further regulatory guidance from the FDA or other agencies.
Bottom line: if your advertising contains "natural," "all-natural" or "100% natural" claims, remember that the FTC thinks that the claims must also be 100% true. This would be a good time to do a compliance check on all products making such claims.
If you have any questions about "natural" claims, or about any other advertising law issues, please contact Terri Seligman at (212) 826 5580 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Hannah Taylor at (212) 705 4849 or email@example.com, or any other member of the Frankfurt Kurnit Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations Group.
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