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June 25, 2018

This is a Weight Loss Pill, Right?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:02 am

Last year, a consumer purchased a bottle of Garcinia Cambogia Extract from a Vitamin Shoppe location in California believing that this product could help her lose weight.

Vtiamin Shoppe

*MOUSE PRINT:

In much smaller print, the bottle was labeled “weight management” and “appetite control” leading her to believe this was just the type of product she was looking for. (The caret after those terms merely refers to the standard fine print disclosure on the back of the label that the FDA has not evaluated these claims.)

Apparently she did a little research after purchasing it and found a study or studies from which she concluded that this stuff had been “scientifically proven to be incapable of providing such weight-loss benefits.” So like any good consumer, rather than going back to the store to get a refund, she filed a class action lawsuit alleging misrepresentation and false advertising, among other claims.

To her surprise, the judge ruled against her, saying in his decision:

The first problem with Plaintiff’s complaint is her assertion that the phrases “Weight Management” and “Appetite Control” equate to representations that the Product provides weight-loss benefits. “Weight Management” suggests management or control of one’s weight, whose upward or downward departure may differ depending on an individual person’s goals, i.e., to gain, lose, or maintain one’s weight. “Appetite Control” indicates control of one’s appetite, which may or may not ultimately result in weight-loss. Thus, it is irrelevant whether the alleged studies disprove that the active ingredients in the Product can produce weight-loss benefits because the phrases themselves do not inherently promise weight-loss benefits.

Say what? If putting the terms “weight management” and “appetite control” on a pill bottle doesn’t suggest that the contents are good for losing weight, what do they suggest?

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June 18, 2018

Do You Know Where Your Prescription Drugs Come From?

Filed under: Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:15 am

Have you looked at the fine print on your prescription drug bottle lately?

drug origin

MrConsumer decided to check his bottles and made a surprising discovery.

*MOUSE PRINT:

drug origin closeup

What? These pills purchased from CVS/Caremark mail order came from India? Yep. And apparently this is not an isolated case. For many generic drugs today, either the main ingredient or the finished pills themselves come from either India or China. Who knew? (You knew if you saw the story about the book, China Rx, a few weeks ago in Consumer World. The book describes lax inspection of pharmaceutical factories in foreign countries, including inadequate inspections by the FDA.)

While this particular manufacturer put its full address on the bottle as the law seems to require, some others just list the manufacturer’s name leaving you, the customer, to guess what the country of origin really is.

Don’t you want to know where the pills you take come from?

For more on the hiding of the origin of foreign-manufactured drugs, see David Lazarus’ column in the LA Times.

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June 11, 2018

Is This Stuff Really “Ice Cream?”

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:14 am

A new brand of “ice cream” called “Enlightened” has hit the market claiming only 60 – 100 calories per serving, with “more protein and less sugar.”

They picture 27 varieties of pints of ice cream in fancy flavors like this on their website:

Enlightened 4 pints

Each of the descriptions under those containers, and even the containers themselves call the product “ice cream.” And on individual product pages, the manufacturer repeatedly refers to the product simply as “ice cream.”

Red Velvet on web

Under federal law, a “standard of identity” defines when you can label a product as “ice cream”:

“Ice cream” is a frozen food made from a mixture of dairy products, containing at least 10 percent milkfat. It also cannot be aerated (“overrun”) by more than 100%. And a gallon must weigh at least 4.5 pounds. [language simplified]

Their nutrition label on the red velvet “ice cream” flavor, for example, reveals a fat content of only 2 grams in a 70 gram (half cup) serving:

nutrition label

So clearly, there is not at least 10% milkfat in this product, and therefore legally it cannot be simply labeled “ice cream.”

You can’t tell looking at the pictures of the pint containers on the website, but a visit to a grocer’s freezer case reveals a secret on the package.

*MOUSE PRINT:

fine print

At the very bottom of the container in the tiniest print, which many people might miss, it says “low fat ice cream.” And that is completely different from plain old “ice cream.”

Federal law requires conspicuous disclosure of the legal name of the product, the statement of identity:

…be presented in bold type on the principal display panel, shall be in a size reasonably related to the most prominent printed matter on such panel, and shall be in lines generally parallel to the base on which the package rests as it is designed to be displayed. 21 CFR 101.3

And under separate FDA rules, products can be labeled as lower in fat if they meet these requirements:

  • “Reduced fat” ice cream contains at least 25 percent less total fat than the referenced product (either an average of leading brands, or the company’s own brand).

  • “Light” or “lite” ice cream contains at least 50 percent less total fat or 33 percent fewer calories than the referenced product (the average of leading regional or national brands).

  • “Lowfat” ice cream contains a maximum of 3 grams of total fat per serving (½ cup).

  • “Nonfat” ice cream contains less than 0.5 grams of total fat per serving.

  • Because this flavor of Enlightened has less than three grams of fat per serving, it can and must be labeled as “low fat ice cream” and not merely “ice cream.”

    We asked Enlightened how the company could refer to these products merely as “ice cream” under the standard of identity and it referred us to the above chart.

    Is the fine print disclosure they make on the container sufficient disclosure to purchasers? Are repeated references merely to “ice cream” in marketing materials and on the package misleading? We filed a complaint with the FDA asking them to look at this case, and we’ll report their findings (if any).

    We’re not alone in raising questions about these newfangled “ice creams.” A class action lawsuit was filed last month against Halo Top, the most famous of these new lower calorie brands, making similar allegations as we have about Enlightened. (Hat tip to TruthinAdvertising.org for this lawsuit.)

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    • • •

    June 4, 2018

    Citi Cuts Back on Credit Card Benefits

    Filed under: Finance — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:58 am

    Don’t you hate those credit card notices that announce “important updates” or “changes,” but don’t tell you what the old terms were so you can compare?

    Citi sent out an email last week announcing revised terms for many of its credit card benefits starting July 29. But without referring to the old brochure, you would have no idea if the particular benefits were improved or cut back. (Hint: those notices rarely contain good news.)

    So Mouse Print* looked up the old benefits to compare them with the new changed ones.

    *MOUSE PRINT:

    Citi benefit changes

    As you can see, some benefits like roadside and travel assistance were eliminated. Other benefits were cut back substantially, but not eliminated (thank goodness).

    One of the benefits that has remained the same is Citi’s extended warranty. Unlike any other credit card, Citi (at least on its Double Cash card) will add 24 months of extended warranty coverage free to almost every manufacturer’s warranty. So a one-year warranty becomes a three-year warranty. This benefit is substantially better than other cards that merely promise to double the manufacturer’s warranty for up to an additional (one) year.

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    • • •

    May 28, 2018

    Samsung Compares Apple and Oranges

    Filed under: Electronics,Telephone — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:56 am

    A new commercial from Samsung urges viewers to upgrade their iPhone to a Samsung Galaxy 9 because the Apple phone is slow and frustrating.



    There’s one big problem with this advertisement, and its secret is buried in virtually unreadable fine print.

    *MOUSE PRINT:

    disclaimer

    What Samsung has done is compare a 2014 model of the iPhone — the iPhone 6 — with Samsung’s latest and greatest model. Had it compared the current iPhone models, the 8 and the X, the slowness depicted would have magically disappeared.

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