“Labels for Nutrilite’s Fruits & vegetables 2GO Twist Tubes claim in big print that the product represents two servings of fruits and vegetables. The fine print clarifies that a dose ‘contains the antioxidant equivalent of 2 servings,’” CSPI charged. “Either way…the company’s 10-milliliter tubes do not come close to conveying the same health benefits as real fruit or vegetables.”
Similarly, CSPI pointed to Nutrilite’s Immunity Twist Tubes claims that the products are an “immune system booster” that will “protect your cells.” CSPI added that the Strawberry Kiwi flavor contained neither strawberry nor kiwi, despite conveying the notion using pictures of the fruits on the box. “The immunity claim is unlawful,” according to CSPI, “because it implies the product will prevent disease. It won’t.”
CSPI also said both product lines contain the artificial sweetener sucralose, despite a print advertisement for Fruits & Vegetables 2GO that claims the product has no artificial ingredients.
CSPI said it would sue Amway unless it stops advertising unsubstantiated nutrition and health benefits in connection with the aforementioned products.
“Amway is sending a horrible health message to American consumers when it holds out its Twist Tubes as a short cut to getting the health benefits of real food,” said Seema Rattan, CSPI staff litigator. “People who want the health benefits of two servings of fruits and vegetables are far better off eating two servings of fruits and vegetables. And no one should be deceived into thinking that these pricey little tubes will prevent them from getting sick.”
In a press release, CSPI pointed to Amway’s alleged claims that Fruits & Vegetables 2GO has “the antioxidant equivalent of two of the 9–13 daily servings of fruits and vegetables your body needs.”
“There’s far more to fruits and vegetables than just antioxidants. Neither Fruits & Vegetables 2GO nor Immunity Twist Tubes has any fiber, for instance,” the group said. “Real fruits and vegetables have up to 8,000 phytochemicals that may provide health benefits—something that supplements simply cannot mimic. Vitamins, like the A, B, and C vitamins in Twist Tubes, account for only a small fraction of the antioxidant activity in whole fruits and vegetables. While the Immunity Twist Tube contains 1,000 mg of vitamin C, human tissues are generally saturated with vitamin C at 400 mg per day, and any excess is typically excreted.”
In a letter to Amway Chairman Steve Van Andel, CSPI said Amway’s labeling and advertising for Nutrilite products violates federal regulations and consumer protection laws in the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Texas, New Jersey, and California.
In comments provided to Nutraceuticals World, Amway’s public relations representative, Anna Bryce, said Amway’s label claims have been substantiated and the company had no plans for changing them.
“We do not plan to change our product labels in light of CSPI’s threat of legal action,” Ms. Bryce said. “We are confident that the label claims are substantiated and clearly explained. Of course, we are always interested in understanding how we can improve our labels.
“To this end,” she continued, “we intend to provide to CSPI more information regarding our substantiation and to review any concerns that they raise. As is the case with any responsible company, we are always willing to consider changes that enhance consumer understanding and appreciation for the unique features and benefits associated with our products.”
Ms. Bryce said the company stands behind Amway’s label claims. “Statements that we make regarding our products are subjected to a thorough process involving an extensive scientific and regulatory review,” she said. “Nevertheless, we are undertaking a review of the statements that CSPI has questioned regarding our Fruits & Vegetables 2GO and Immunity Twist Tube products. Given what we know about the rigor of our review process, we are confident that the claims we make about these products are properly substantiated and explained.”
CSPI’s litigation unit has successfully prompted several major food companies, including Quaker, Frito-Lay, Procter & Gamble, Tropicana, and Pinnacle Foods, to halt a variety of misleading labeling or marketing practices. In 2008, CSPI joined litigation that returned approximately $12 million in refunds to consumers who purchased the dietary supplement Airborne; labels and ads falsely claimed the product would cure and prevent colds.