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Monday, November 7, 2011

ERSP Reviews Advertising for Nopalea; Recommends Marketer Modify, Discontinue Claims

The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has recommended that TriVita, Inc., modify or discontinue certain claims made in direct response advertising for “Nopalea,” a dietary supplement made from cactus fruit juice.

ERSP, the electronic direct-response industry’s self-regulatory forum, is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) with policy oversight by the National Advertising Review Council (NARC).

The marketer’s advertising came to the attention of ERSP pursuant to its ongoing monitoring program.

ERSP reviewed broadcast and online advertising for Nopalea and reviewed the following core performance claims:  

  • "Daily use helps your body: Reduce inflammation, Detoxify, Achieve optimal cellular health, [and] Protect against premature aging.”; “Reduce swelling in joints and muscles”
  • "Scientific research shows that Betalains help to: Reduce the risk of blood clots... reduce bad cholesterol... protect cells from toxins... protect your liver.”
  • “Finding: Nopalea promotes optimum cellular health, helps reduce inflammation, helps detoxify poisons, helps protect against premature aging, provides blood sugar stability and helps reduce inflammation.”
  • “Nopalea delivers scientifically proven health benefits.” and “Nopalea harnesses the power of this desert superfruit and its belatains to bring you scientifically proven health benefits.”
  • “Want even more reasons to drink Nopalea? Scientific research shows that Nopalea also helps the body to: Increase Energy, Boost the immune system, Protect against fluid retention, Neutralize free radicals”
  • “Best of all, Nopalea helped my body reduce inflammation as shown on my C-Reactive Protein test. Prior, the score was 1.3, but since Nopalea, it is down to just barely over zero – it decreased one full point.”

As support for performance and establishment claims, TriVita submitted a number of scientific studies on Nopalea’s main ingredient, Opuntia ficus indica (Nopal cactus).

While ERSP did not dispute that the studies provided useful information about the primary ingredient in Nopalea, the evidence did not support express claims regarding specific health conditions. ERSP recommended the marketer modify or discontinue the performance claims at issue.

ERSP noted that there have been no clinical studies on the product and the evidence provided does not support claims that Nopalea will alleviate or eliminate specific health conditions. ERSP recommended the marketer discontinue testimonials describing specific health conditions. Further,  ERSP recommended that TriVita add a clear and conspicuous disclosure describing the relationship between TriVita and its “members.”

“The fact that the some of the consumer testimonials are made by people who receive commission on the sale of the product might materially affect the weight and credibility of the representation as interpreted by consumers and, as such, should be clearly and conspicuously disclosed in the advertising,” ERSP stated.

The company, in its marketer’s statement, noted that clinical trials of the product are underway. The company said it “…takes great care to truthfully and accurately advertise its products.  Although the Company certainly disagrees with certain conclusions of ERSP, it has and will continue to cooperate with ERSP and make appropriate modifications to its advertising.”

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