FTC's Gordon: Marketers Making Health Claims Need to Back Them Up

The Federal Trade Commission is keeping a close eye on nutritional claims made by major food marketers, said Leonard Gordon, director of the northeast regional office of the Federal Trade Commission, Thursday.

NEW YORK — The Federal Trade Commission is keeping a close eye on nutritional claims made by major food marketers, said Leonard Gordon, director of the northeast regional office of the Federal Trade Commission, Thursday.

“More and more products — food products — are making health claims and I think you’re going to see more enforcement there,” said Gordon during a briefing on the new direction of FTC consumer protection, at law firm Venable’s office here. “As companies make more and more claims, they’re going to need to have some science behind those or there are going to be some problems.”

Gordon provided as example a case where Kellogg touted a breakfast of Frosted Mini-Wheats as “clinically shown to improve kids’ attentiveness by nearly 20%.”

An FTC complaint alleged that according to Kellogg’s clinical study the claims were false, and only about half the children who ate Frosted Mini-Wheats showed any improvement in attentiveness, and only about one in nine improved by 20% or more. In August, Kellogg settled with the FTC.

Since the appointments of Chairman Jon Leibowitz and Bureau of Consumer Protection director David Vladek, the BCP has become more focused on protecting kids, privacy issues, scams that prey on those in poverty and partnerships, according to Gordon.

Marketers can expect to see more joint enforcement between the FTC and the Food and Drug Administration, for instance, he said.

Cases of deceptive “green” marketing are also on its radar.

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