It's Summer in the City and the back of my neck, and
just about everything else, is getting dirty and gritty. The
FTC, however, just announced two cases reminding advertisers
to keep it clean on claims that their products can sanitize.
The FTC sued Angel Sales, Inc. and Zadro Health Solutions, as
well as the two companies' principals, alleging that the
companies' claims that their ultraviolet light devices could
kill everything from foot fungus to MRSA were unsubstantiated and
therefore deceptive. The companies settled the FTC's
charges by agreeing to substantial monetary judgments and
injunctive relief prohibiting such claims in the future. In
2011, the FTC settled similar charges against Oreck for its UV vacuum cleaner.
Angel Sales sold the shUVee device as a means of sanitizing
shoes and keeping them odor and bacteria free, claiming that the UV
light reached all the way into the toes where bacteria live.
Angel Sales claimed that the device would: kill over 95% of
germs, bacteria, and the fungus responsible for MRSA; kill over 99%
of common foot dwelling pathogens including those that cause foot
odor; and kill the germs and fungus that cause Athlete's
Zadro Health sold UV wands and scanners that it claimed killed
99% of germs and bacteria when used on surfaces, food, bedding, and
in water in as little as 10 seconds, including such nasty things as
eColi, Salmonella and the H1N1 virus.
The FTC alleged that both companies also represented that the
challenged claims were scientifically proven. According to
the FTC, both companies lacked the science to back up those claims.
Although not explicit in the FTC's complaint and order, I
suspect that the companies lacked testing to show these products
worked as claimed in the real world as opposed to a limited
Both companies sold their products directly on their websites,
as well as in prominent retail catalogs and websites, many of which
the FTC identified in its press release.
Both companies agreed to similar orders that provided for six
figure monetary judgments, which were largely suspended based on an
ability to pay. The orders also prohibit similar claims going
forward unless the companies possess competent and reliable
scientific evidence to substantiate the claim. Consistent
with other FTC settlements after the POM case, the order did not
require any specific number of studies or tests to substantiate
These cases demonstrate that health claims of almost any nature
are likely to draw the FTC's attention. Thus, our advice
"keep it clean" and make sure you have good science to
back up any health claim. If you don't, you might find
yourself uttering some of the 7 dirty words.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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