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Industry News
January 4, 2010

Vitamin Retailer News
Barlean�s Launches Freshness You Can Feel Promotion
Barlean’s (Ferndale, WA) recently announced that it is launching a new Fresh Catch fish oil promotion called “Freshness You Can Feel.”

Retailers are rewarded with attractive discounts, merchandising incentives, free Fresh Catch T-shirts and are supported with national advertising and in-store instant coupons on all Fresh Catch fish oil caps and liquids. The promotion runs October through the end of year.

For more information, call (800) 445-3529 or visit www.barleans.com.

Metagenics Acquires Catalina Lifesciences
Metagenics, Inc. (San Clemente, CA), a life sciences company, has recently acquired Catalina Lifesciences, Inc. (Irvine, CA, dba Bariatric Advantage).

Metagenics is a researcher, manufacturer and distributor of medical foods and nutritional products used in lifestyle therapy programs and sold to healthcare professionals to aid in management of patients’ chronic illnesses and achievement of genetic potential through nutrition. Bariatric Advantage is the market leader in the development of micronutrient replacements for weight-loss surgery patients, said the company. Together, the products and services of the two companies span the continuum of health from prevention and wellness, to chronic illness, to lifelong solutions for individuals who undergo weight-loss surgery.

“Metagenics is an excellent partner for us,” said Thomas Kinder, president and CEO of Catalina Lifesciences. “Both companies have built superior quality and science into our product lines and services, and have been the innovators in our respective spaces. The additional resources provided by Metagenics’ research, business systems and global presence will expand our ability to bring the advantages of our products to a much broader audience of bariatric patients and healthcare professionals worldwide.”

For more information about Metagenics, call (800) 692-9400 or visit www.metagenics.com. To learn more about Catalina Lifesciences, call (800) 898-6888 or visit www.bariatricadvantage.com.

Organic Products Retailer News
TransFair USA Rebrands as Fair Trade USA
TransFair USA, a third-party certifier of Fair Trade products, recently announced it will change its name to Fair Trade USA effective October 1, 2010. The updated, simplified name and brand identity will support the nonprofit organization’s efforts to increase awareness of Fair Trade among a broader consumer audience, increase sales of Fair Trade Certified™ products and generate more benefits for farmers and workers around the world, it said. The company’s ethical label—Fair Trade Certified™—will remain the same.
“American consumers and the business community are more eager than ever to embrace the simple concept of better products for a better world. Fair Trade delivers both,” said Paul Rice, president and CEO of Fair Trade USA. “In the past five years, consumer recognition of the Fair Trade Certified label has tripled. By strengthening our brand, we seek to accelerate that momentum and awaken millions of Americans to a simple truth: every purchase matters. Every shopping decision is an opportunity to improve lives, restore hope and protect the planet. Ultimately, we aim to dramatically increase the positive impact of Fair Trade for hardworking farming families around the world.”
Fair Trade USA will transition the organization’s website and marketing materials over the next year, starting with Fair Trade Month, which also kicks off October 1 with the theme “Every Purchase Matters.” The annual national awareness campaign mobilizes a wide range of corporate, nonprofit, producer and consumer partners through more than 100 events, promotions and fund-raising parties across the United States. These activities raise awareness of the Fair Trade movement as a comprehensive approach to social, economic and environmental empowerment and sustainability among farming communities in the developing world.  
Visit www.fairtradeusa.org for more information.

MegaFood, Organic Valley Enter Farm Fresh Partnership
MegaFood™ (Derry, NH), a purveyor of premium artisan whole food supplements, recently announced that Organic Valley Cooperative (LaFarge, WI) has joined its family of Farm Fresh Partners™.

MegaFood sources only fresh raw whole foods from farms throughout the US and Canada to produce its FoodState® concentrates, which are the source of the 100 percent pure whole food nutrients in their formulations. Organic Valley, a farmer-owned cooperative, will provide MegaFood farm fresh organic vegetables such as carrots, broccoli and cabbage from this fall’s harvest.

“MegaFood is very excited to welcome Organic Valley Cooperative to our family,” said Carl Jackson, president of MegaFood. “Organic Valley’s impeccable reputation is built on many of the same standards as ours: only the highest quality ingredients, artisan manufacturing and stewardship of the land and our natural resources.”  

For more information about MegaFood, call (800) 848-2542 or visit www.megafood.com. To learn more about Organic Valley Cooperative, call (888) 444-6455 or visit www.organicvalley.coop.

Nutrition Industry Executive News
POM Wonderful, FTC Spar in Back-to-Back Complaints
On September 13, 2010, POM Wonderful filed a lawsuit against the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US District Court for the District of Columbia challenging the Commission’s policy that companies conduct at least two clinical studies in order to substantiate any health claim. Since that time, the FTC has struck back with an administrative complaint charging the makers of POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice and POMx supplements with making false and unsubstantiated claims that their products will prevent or treat heart disease, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction.

The pomegranate juice and supplement products maker alleges that, by requiring health claims pass muster under the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act, FTC impinges on Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority. The Los Angeles company also takes exception with FTC’s requirement that firms conduct at least two “well-controlled” clinical studies to support health claims, calling it “a dramatic turn in the level of substantiation” and a further violation of a marketer’s First Amendment rights, reported The Tan Sheet.

According to plaintiff’s counsel Barry Coburn of Washington-based Coburn & Coffman, at stake is POM’s freedom of speech and its “investments in its science program and marketing strategy that reasonably relied upon a clear line of demarcation between the FDA and FTC.”

Though the FTC’s stance on claims may be troubling to supplement manufacturers and industry supporters, Anne Maher, partner at Kleinfeld, Kaplan & Becker and formerly of FTC’s Advertising Practices Division, said in a statement that POM essentially is disputing a non-existent standard, since the commission is considering claims on a case by case basis through consent orders and not via a rulemaking. “There’s other ways they can exert pressure on the Commission, but I don’t see it as a legal matter [challengeable] as an industry-wide rule; that’s not what it is,” she said.

For the dietary supplement industry, which relies heavily on its ability to make claims when appropriate, heavy repercussions could result from the ruling of this case—whether the outcome is in favor or against POM Wonderful.

According to Marc Ullman of New York law firm Ullman, Shapiro & Ullman, if FTC were to put such a policy into place through an Advertising Guide or Notice and comment rulemaking, it could potentially suppress the vast majority of claims being made for supplements. In addition, he said in an article for Natural Products Insider, “Should POM lose this litigation on the merits, the next time the proponents of expanded FTC powers seek to grant the Commission unfettered rulemaking powers, it will be able to counter industry objections by pointing to a federal court decision upholding the very practices the industry is objecting to. The long-term implications of such an outcome may be very serious indeed.”

The FTC complaint, on the other hand, charges that POM Wonderful LLC violated federal law by making deceptive disease prevention and treatment claims. The ads in question appeared in national publications; on internet sites such as pomtruth.com, pomwonderful.com and pompills.com; on bus stops and billboards; in newsletters to customers; and on tags attached to the product.

“Any consumer who sees POM Wonderful products as a silver bullet against disease has been misled,” said David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.  “When a company touts scientific research in its advertising, the research must squarely support the claims made. Contrary to POM Wonderful’s advertising, the available scientific information does not prove that POM Juice or POMx effectively treats or prevents these illnesses.”

POM’s owners, Lynda and Stewart Resnick of Los Angeles, plan to contest the charges. “We stand behind the vast body of scientific research documenting the healthy properties of Wonderful variety pomegranate,” the company said in a statement. “Our research is unprecedented among food and beverage companies, and we take pride in having initiated a program of modern scientific research to investigate the health benefits of this ancient and revered fruit.”
NPF Meets With FTC to Discuss Self-Regulation
As part of its Truth in Advertising program, the Natural Products Foundation (NPF) recently met with officials from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to discuss enforcement of dietary supplement advertising standards.

John Gay, president of the Natural Products Foundation, led the meeting, which focused on 12 companies that did not respond to the Natural Products Foundation’s notice of advertising non-compliance.

“Through the Foundation’s Truth in Advertising Program, we identify cases of non-compliant dietary supplement advertising and attempt to assist the companies involved in correcting their ads,” said Gay. “However, when companies refuse to bring their advertising into compliance, direct regulatory action needs to be taken.”

The Foundation’s Truth in Advertising program has issued 55 warning letters since January. Most companies receiving the letters have responded in a positive fashion, correcting problems identified by the Foundation, it reported. During the meeting with FTC representatives, Gay discussed the Foundation’s willingness to lead the self-regulatory program. Gay also discussed the need for support from the FTC to address problems that could not be resolved in a collegial manner. “The Natural Product Foundation’s primary goal throughout this effort is to work with industry members and raise the overall standard of dietary supplement advertising,” said Derek Hall, board chair of the Foundation. “The Truth in Advertising Program provides a much needed self-regulatory and educational presence in the world of dietary supplement advertising.”

Information is available on the Foundation’s website to assist companies in need of guidance, available here. Companies that want to proactively become members of the Truth in Advertising program can take the foundation’s pledge here.

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