March and April were very busy months for the Federal Trade Commission’s Office of Consumer Protection staff who focus on “Made in USA” enforcement. Indeed, FTC issued seven “closing letters” to companies during a three-week period, in which FTC closed out its investigations involving allegations that each company “overstated the extent to which” the products in each case were made in the United States. In each case, the FTC closed out the investigation based on the company’s agreement to implement a remedial action plan, including but not limited to such actions as removing unqualified US-origin claims from websites and social media and providing corrected qualified claims to third-party resellers and distributors. This flurry of activity began on March 14, 2017 and ended on April 5, 2017, as follows:
Georgia C. Ravitz
Georgia Ravitz is a partner in the firm’s Washington, DC, office and leads the Consumer Product Safety practice, and is a senior partner in the firm’s Food & Drug (FDA), Agriculture, and Advertising practices. She focuses on food and drug law and regulatory policy governing the regulation of farm products (e.g., eggs, poultry, meat, dairy), pharmaceuticals (including prescription drugs, generic drugs and over-the-counter drugs), biologics, cosmetics, health and beauty aids, medical devices (both PMA and 510(k) products), dietary supplements, vitamin and mineral products, food, and other consumer goods. Georgia also focuses on the laws and regulations pertaining to consumer products generally, and those administered by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and various state and local regulatory agencies responsible for consumer health and safety as well as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
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Blog Posts by Georgia C. Ravitz
What’s the News?
Walgreens recently settled with the state of New York over allegations that the drug retail chain misled consumers with its pricing, including value and clearance prices. According to the New York attorney general’s office, an undercover investigation showed that Walgreens was overcharging customers compared to the prices displayed in print advertising and on-shelf tags. Walgreens agreed to pay $500,000 to settle the dispute and has agreed to review and correct the allegedly misleading pricing practices. This should serve as a reminder to retailers in all industries of the need to exercise care in product pricing, as this area has become a common target for regulators and the plaintiff’s bar.
The Federal Trade Commission announced on April 12 that it reached settlement agreements with four companies that market skin care products, shampoos, and sunscreens online over charges that they falsely claimed that their products are “ALL NATURAL” or “100% NATURAL,” despite the fact that they contain synthetic ingredients.
The Commission voted unanimously to issue each administrative complaint and to accept the four proposed settlement agreements. The Commission has also issued a complaint against a fifth company, California Naturel, for making similar claims. A copy of the FTC’s press release announcing the settlement agreements can be found here.
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