|For Immediate Release
Case # 30-2011 00445453
February 1, 2011
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
DIETARY SUPPLEMENT DISTRIBUTOR TO PAY $2.65 MILLION TO SETTLE HISTORIC STATEWIDE UNFAIR BUSINESS PRACTICES LAWSUIT
SANTA ANA – Irwin Naturals, Inc. (Irwin Naturals) has been ordered to pay $2.65 million today in the largest multi-jurisdictional settlement of its kind in California by a dietary supplement manufacturer for unfair business practices. The Orange County District Attorney (OCDA), along with the District Attorney of Alameda, Marin, Monterey, Napa, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Solano, and Sonoma counties, filed a civil lawsuit to enjoin Irwin Naturals from engaging in false and misleading advertising of certain dietary supplement products in violation of Proposition 65, which requires a warning label on products that expose the consumer to over half a microgram of lead per day, and Hoodia products that did not contain the Hoodia gordonii herb. The lawsuit also accused the defendant of failing to reimburse customers in a timely fashion for returned products, and that some direct sales customers received and were charged for products not ordered.
The settlement, signed today Feb. 1, 2011, by the Honorable David McEachen and the 10 District Attorney Offices, requires that Irwin Naturals products marketed and sold in California be accurately labeled with a lead warning if the product exposes the consumer to over half a microgram lead intake per day. The order requires them to pay $1.95 million in civil penalties to provide support for future enforcement of California consumer protection laws, provide up to $100,000 in restitution to California consumers who did not receive previously requested refunds, and $600,000 in investigative costs.
Irwin Naturals is a Los Angeles-based dietary supplement distributor to over 50 countries, which markets and sells its products retail and through direct sales. In 2008, a California taskforce manned by the 10 District Attorney Offices, created to investigate dietary supplements claims, began an investigation into Irwin Naturals for false and misleading representation in their marketing and sales of certain products, including Dual Action Cleanse, Fast Action Hoodia Diet, and 10 Day Hoodia Diet. Testing of Hoodia products revealed that they did not contain any Hoodia gordonii, contrary to their labeling information.
A subsequent investigation revealed that Irwin Naturals was marketing and selling certain dietary supplements containing lead. California Law requires that all products containing more than half a microgram of lead be marked with warning labels. Laboratory testing revealed that certain Irwin Naturals products, Green Tea Fat Metabolizer and Green Tea Fat Burner, contained over half a microgram of lead. Samples of the company’s System Six and Green Tea Fat Meltdown dietary supplements tested up to 10 times over the legal limit of lead and Green Tea Fat Burner tested over 14 times over the legal limit of lead.
The settlement did not require the defendant to admit fault or liability. Irwin Naturals agreed to strict injunctive terms to prevent any future unfair or deceptive business practices. They stopped selling and/or reformulated all of the tested products since being alerted to the test results and will be required in the future to include warning information with all products containing specific levels of lead marketed to California residents. Irwin Naturals was ordered to pay restitution to consumers who filed documented complaints with Irwin Naturals, the Better Business Bureau, the California Attorney General or any of the prosecuting District Attorney Offices between July 1, 2006 and Jan. 18, 2011, who have not already received refunds.