The Ronkonkoma nutritional supplement maker NBTY Inc. used a childrens’ vitamin marketing campaign based on Disney and Marvel characters Winnie the Pooh and Spider Man to deceive consumers, a federal agency said.
NBTY said its multivitamins had 100 milligrams of DHA, but the gummies and tablets had only trace amounts of the omega-3 fatty acid, the Federal Trade Commission said.
In a settlement with the FTC, NBTY agreed to stop making false statements about the contents of its vitamins and must refund $2.1 million to consumers who bought the vitamins.
The FTC action was described in an administrative complaint made public Monday.
An NBTY spokesman, James Flaherty, was not immediately available for comment Tuesday.
The FTC said it will inform consumers about its planned refund program to distribute the $2.1 million to those who bought the Disney and Marvel multivitamins.The FTC said a daily serving of the Disney and Marvel multivitamins for children ages four years and older contained only 0.1 milligrams, or 100 micrograms — one one-thousandth of the claimed 100 mg.
“The companies also made unsupported claims that a daily serving of the products promotes healthy brain and eye development in children,” the FTC said in an administrative complaint.
The NBTY subsidiaries NatureSmart Llc and Rexall Sundown Inc. marketed the vitamins, selling them at major retail stores including CVS, Walmart, Target, Walgreens, Kroger, Kmart, Meijer and Rite Aid, as well as online. A portion of an advertisement appears above.
The FTC settlement:
-- bars NBTY, NatureSmart and Rexall Sundown from misrepresenting the amount of any ingredient contained in any product
-- bars the companies from misrepresenting that any ingredient, including DHA, promotes brain or eye health or provides any other health benefit, unless the claim is true and backed by competent and reliable scientific evidence
-- specifies that any violations could subject the NBTY, NatureSmart and Rexall Sundown to civil penalties.
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