Seen frequently on grocery items, and especially on dietary supplements, structure/function claims describe the role of a nutrient or ingredient in the structure or function of the human body. Examples include “Calcium builds strong bones,” “St. John’s Wort supports mood,” and “Vitamin E supports the immune system.”
The FDA defines and regulates structure/function claims, and FDA requirements generally preempt state-law requirements that are “not identical.” 21 U.S.C. § 343-1(a)(5). So, does compliance with FDA regulations for structure/function claims shield food and supplement manufacturers from lawsuits claiming their structure/function claims are false and misleading?
The California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, recently affirmed judgment in favor of a fruit snack manufacturer who claimed “fruit” was stated to be the first ingredient on a front label but listed “fruit puree” first in the product’s ingredient list.
Plaintiff’s Fruit Snack–Based Claims
Defendants in Iglesias v. Welch Foods, Inc., et al., No. A159565, manufactured fruit snacks with a label that stated, “Fruit is our 1st Ingredient!” at the top of the front label. The snacks’ “Nutrition Fact Panel” then listed “FRUIT PUREE” as the first ingredient, followed by corn syrup.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to alter ways of life across the globe, clinical trials must be adapted for participant safety while maintaining accuracy in the midst of the ongoing crisis. In September 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated its “Guidance on Conduct of Clinical Trials of Medical Products During COVID-19 Public Health Emergency,” providing specific recommendations for ongoing or upcoming clinic trial activities.
On June 15, 2020, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) revoked the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) that permitted emergency distribution of chloroquine phosphate (CQ) and hydroxychloroquine sulfate (HCQ) from the Strategic National Stockpile. (https://www.fda.gov/media/138945/download) The FDA concluded, based on clinical trial data and the continuing failure of treatment guidelines to support use of CQ or HCQ to treat patients with COVID-19, that “it is no longer reasonable to believe that oral formulations of HCQ and CQ may be effective in treating COVID-19, nor is it reasonable to believe that the known and potential benefits of these products outweigh their known and potential risks.”
With no approved vaccine, the world waits for the next big breakthrough in 2020’s medical emergency. Some companies already claim to have found it – and subsequently received warning letters from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for misbranding. The FTC is targeting companies promoting products with supposed COVID-19 cures, treatment or prevention for making illegal, unsubstantiated claims.
One of the FTC’s objectives is eliminating false and misleading information from the marketplace. The FTC Act defines false advertising as misleading in a “material respect,” which includes both affirmative statements and failure to “reveal facts material in the light of [the product’s] representations[.]” See 15 USC 55(a)(1).