District Attorney Nancy E. O'Malley announced the settlement Monday of a false advertising lawsuit filed in Santa Cruz County by the District Attorneys for the counties of Santa Cruz, Alameda, Marin, Monterey, Napa, Orange, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma against a Delaware company, Intelligent Beauty Inc., the makers of "Sensa."
The so-called "sprinkle diet" is sold nationwide and became the subject of the district attorneys' investigation after claiming the efficacy of the product had been clinically proven in the largest clinical study ever conducted. Sensa claims consumers will lose weight by sprinkling their flavored 'tastants' on their food.
As part of the final Judgment, the defendants agreed to pay civil penalties and costs in the amount of $800,000 to be used for the enforcement of consumer protection laws.
The company, Sensa Products LLC and its parent company Intelligent Beauty Inc., are permanently enjoined from making any claims regarding the efficacy or effects of any of its products without possessing competent and reliable scientific evidence that substantiates those claims. They are also prohibited from violating consumer protection laws regulating the automatic enrollment and shipment of products to consumers unless there has been a clear and conspicuous disclosure to the customer and they have obtained the customer's affirmative consent to the enrollment obligation.
Additionally, any refund policy of defendants must clearly and conspicuously disclose any exclusion to the policy and defendants have agreed to quickly refund any improper billing after cancellation of an order by a customer.
District Attorney O'Malley states,
"The Alameda County district attorney's office is committed to protecting California consumer's from deceptive advertising in the dietary supplement market place," O'Malley said.
Deputy District Attorney Scott Patton, who handled the case for Alameda County, said, "State action is necessary in this area because the federal government does not regulate the dietary supplement market."
"Unlike prescription medication, dietary supplements do not need to be pre-approved by FDA before they can be sold to consumers," he explained. "A dietary supplement can be sold in the U.S. without prior government approval or proof that it is either safe or effective for its intended use."
The defendants did not admit fault or liability, but have agreed to abide by comprehensive court orders to prevent any future unfair or deceptive business practices.