June 20, 2018

Green Coffee Bean Supplement Maker Settles FTC Charges

The Federal Trade Commission has settled with Applied Food Sciences, Inc. on charges that it used the results of a flawed study to market baseless weight-loss claims about its green coffee extract. The FTC stated that the study was “so hopelessly flawed that no reliable conclusions could be drawn from it.” The flawed study was promoted on the Dr. Oz Show.

The settlement requires the company to pay $3.5 million and to have scientific substantiation for any future weight-loss claims it makes, including at least “two adequate and well-controlled human clinical trials.” The company made the false claims to retailers, who repeated the claims to consumers.

Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection said in a statement, “Applied Food Sciences knew or should have known that this botched study didn’t prove anything. In publicizing the results, it helped fuel the green coffee phenomenon.”

Applied Food Sciences set up a study in India and paid researchers to conduct a clinical trial on overweight adults to test whether Green Coffee Antioxidant (GCA), a dietary supplement, reduced body weight and body fat. The FTC states that the lead investigator “repeatedly altered the weights and other key measurements of the subjects, changed the length of the trial, and misstated which products were taking the placebo or GCA during the trial.”

When the lead investigator couldn’t get the study published, AFS hired researchers at the University of Scranton to rewrite it. Those researchers, Joe Vinson and Bryan Burham, never verified the authenticity of the information used in the study in spite of receiving conflicting data.

AFS then used the flawed study to falsely claim that GCA caused weight loss of 17.7 pounds, 10.5% of body weight, and 16% of body fat in 22 weeks without diet and exercise. Subjects in the study were told to restrict their diet and increase exercise. The FTC recommends that consumers should carefully weigh evidence when looking at dietary supplements that promise weight loss. The FTC has published consumer information about weight loss and fitness to educate consumers.

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