California Maker of Weight Loss and Green Tea Products to Pay $2.65 Million Settlement for Unfair Business Practices

On February 1, 2011, dietary supplement maker Irwin Naturals agreed to pay civil penalties, consumer restitution, and and investigative costs to settle a suit in California alleging that Irwin Naturals marketed weight loss products that did not contain the listyed “active” ingredient, hoodia gordonii, a succulent plant. Additionally, the suit alleged that the Los Angeles-based company sold green tea products that contained more than the legal limit of lead without the proper warning labels, didn’t reimburse customers in a timely fashion for returned products, and that it billed some direct-sales customers for products that weren’t ordered.

A California task force involving District Attorneys from several counties began an investigation into Irwin Naturals for false and misleading representation in its marketing and sales of certain products, including Dual Action Cleanse, Fast Action Hoodia Diet, and 10 Day Hoodia Diet. Testing of Hoodia products revealed they did not contain any hoodia gordonii, contrary to labeling information. A subsequent investigation revealed that the Los Angeles-based company was marketing and selling dietary supplements that contain lead. Products that contain more than a half-microgram of lead require warning labels by California law. Those products were Green Tea Fat Metabolizer and Green Tea Fat Burner, both of which contained more than a half-microgram of lead.

Samples of the Green Tea Fat Burner tested over 14 times the legal limit of lead, while samples of System Six and Green Tea Fat Meltdown tested up to 10 times above the legal limit for lead.

Irwin Naturals agreed to abide by an injuction to prevent any future unfair or deceptive business practices. It 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.

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