FTC Files Complaint Against Rose Creek For 'Vitamin O' Claims
In a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington in Spokane, the FTC alleged that Rose Creek's direct-response ads in several newspapers have made false claims about the product's benefits, including that it can prevent or cure various cancers. The FTC is seeking injunctions to halt the dissemination of advertising for the product and refunds for consumers. A judge will determine whether or not the FTC's complaint merits action by the court.
"Apparently what they want is that they do not want any untruths said," said Donald Smyth, president of Rose Creek and its sister company, The Staff of Life Inc. "We want to tell the truth." Both Smyth and The Staff of Life also are named in the complaint.
Smyth said he had stopped advertising the product in newspapers, and that he hoped to resolve the issue quickly.
The FTC alleges that advertising for Vitamin O has included statements and testimonials claiming that the product, which is sold in a liquid form for $20 for a 2-ounce bottle, prevents and is an effective treatment for pulmonary disease, chronic headaches, infections and colds and that it promotes sound sleep and improves memory and concentration. In fact, the FTC alleges, Vitamin O "appears to be nothing more than salt water."
"This case brings home the message that unsubstantiated and outlandish claims for dietary supplements will not be tolerated," said Jodie Bernstein, director of the FTC's Bureau for Consumer Protection, in a prepared statement. "It also should remind the media that that they can do their readers an important service by screening ads and refusing to run those that are clearly false."
The FTC issued new guidelines for the advertising of nutritional supplements in November, 1998, and has "been very active in the area of dietary supplements," said Brenda Mack, a spokeswoman for the FTC. "We've been seeing a big increase in dietary supplements making health claims," she said.
Smyth said he thought he had acted within the boundaries of the law. The product, he said, is based on the use of "stabilized oxygen" in water.
"The idea of stabilized oxygen in water is nothing new," he said. "But there are some doctors that don't know about it."
The product works, according to information at Rose Creek's web site, www.rosecreek.net, by releasing oxygen molecules into the bloodstream through the digestive tract. The oxygen molecules then are distributed throughout the body to battle a variety of ailments, improve absorption of nutrients and dispose of toxins.
Rose Creek, whose other products include digestive aids and enzymes, markets its products primarily through solo mailings and the Internet, Smyth said.