Even Superheroes Need Substantiation

As part of its ongoing probe of questionable claims involving kids’ health, the FTC announced a $2.1 million settlement with major dietary supplement marketers for allegedly deceptive claims that their products promote healthy brain and eye development in children.

The FTC charged NBTY and two subsidiaries, NatureSmart and Rexall Sundown, Inc., with making misleading representations about the amount of DHA – an Omega-3 fatty acid – in their line of Disney- and Marvel Heroes-licensed children’s multivitamin gummies and tablets.

For example, the front panel of the Disney Princesses Gummies featured a pink crystal heart that said with DHA*. The asterisk refers to a statement on the side panel that read *DHA is naturally found in the brain and the eyes. 100 mg promotes healthy brain and eye development. **One serving provides 100 mcg of DHA. Thus, according to the FTC, a daily serving of the multivitamin for four-year-olds actually contained only 1/1000th of the 100 mg amount  – 100 micrograms or 0.1 milligram. The FTC’s lawsuit also charged the companies with making unsupported claims that a daily serving promoted healthy brain and eye development in kids.

The products featured a veritable Who’s Who of the kindergarten set, including Spider Man, Captain America, Ironman, Winnie the Pooh, Snow White, Cinderella, and characters from the movies “Finding Nemo,” “Wall•e,” “Toy Story,” and “Cars.” Parents bought the vitamins at national chains like CVS, Kroger, Meijer, Rite Aid, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart.

In addition to $2.1 in consumer refunds, the settlement bars the companies from:

  • misrepresenting the amount of any ingredient in any product; and
  • misrepresenting that any ingredient – including DHA – promotes brain or eye health or provides any other health benefit, unless the claim is true and backed by competent and reliable scientific evidence.

Details of the refund program for people who bought the Disney and Marvel multivitamins will be announced soon. Consumers looking for the latest info on refunds in FTC cases can find it here.

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