The Federal Trade Commission filed civil contempt charges yesterday against Enforma Natural Products, whose DRTV spots for nutritional supplements led the FTC to file charges against celebrity endorser Steve Garvey in September 2000.
According to the FTC, Enforma is using false and unsubstantiated claims in advertising for two weight-loss products, Chitozyme and Acceleron. Enforma is running an infomercial campaign and advertising through its Web site, Enforma2000.com, with claims that the products “promote weight loss while letting you still eat your favorite food guilt free” and that they are “proven to increase your metabolism.”
The FTC's lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, accuses Enforma of violating the terms of a previous out-of-court settlement in which it promised to make no further use of unsubstantiated representations in its advertising.
The settlement, which included a $10 million payment for consumer restitution, headed off an April 2000 FTC lawsuit that stemmed from Enforma's DRTV campaigning for its Fat Trapper and Exercise In A Bottle products. Garvey, longtime first baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers, endorsed the products in an advertisement the FTC charged was deceptive.
Enforma made its settlement with the FTC in May 2000, several months before the FTC filed its charges against Garvey. The case against Garvey is still pending.
The latest FTC charges against Enforma represent the second time this year the agency has accused the company of violating the terms of the May 2000 settlement. In January, the FTC charged Enforma with continuing to advertise Fat Trapper Plus and Exercise In A Bottle with deceptive claims.
A ruling in that matter has not yet been issued, the FTC said. The court has appointed a scientific expert to review Enforma's claims.
The FTC's filing of charges against Garvey in 2000 was a landmark case in that it established the agency's willingness to hold celebrity endorsers accountable for claims they make in ads. Before Garvey, singer Pat Boone was the subject of FTC sanctions in the 1970s for his endorsement of skin-care product Acne-Statin.