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Posted July 30, 2003

Maker of Weight-Loss and Cellulite Treatment Ordered to Stop False Claims and Pay Consumer Redress

On July 30, 2003 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that a Canadian-based company operating in the United States under the name “Bio Lab,” and its president, Jean-Francois Brochu, have agreed to settle FTC charges that they deceived consumers through false and unsubstantiated advertising of their weight-loss and cellulite treatment products. The FTC alleged that the defendants made numerous false and unsubstantiated claims for their “Quick Slim Fat Blocker” and “Cellu-Fight” products. Under the terms of the settlement, the defendants are prohibited from making false or unsubstantiated representations about the benefits or efficacy of any health-related product, program, or service, and are required to pay consumer redress.

The FTC’s complaint, filed in September 2002 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, alleged that No. 9068-8425 Quebec, Inc., doing business as Bio Lab, Cellu-Fight, and Quick Slim, and Jean-Francois Brochu, falsely advertised “Quick Slim Fat Blocker,” a purported weight-loss product, and “Cellu-Fight,” a product to eliminate cellulite. Specifically, the FTC alleged that the defendants falsely represented that Quick Slim causes rapid and substantial weight loss, including as much as 2 pounds per day, without dieting or increasing exercise, and that the weight loss would be permanent. The FTC also alleged that the defendants falsely represented that Cellu-Fight is clinically proven to eliminate cellulite from the stomach, backside, hips, and thighs.

The settlement prohibits the defendants from representing that their weight loss products will cause rapid or substantial weight loss without the need to diet or exercise, or that they will cause permanent weight loss. The settlement also prohibits the defendants from representing that their cellulite treatment products will reduce or eliminate cellulite. In addition, the order prohibits unsubstantiated claims regarding the efficacy of any weight-loss or cellulite treatment product, as well as unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits, performance, efficacy, safety, or side effects of health-related products, programs, or services, including any dietary supplement, food, drug, device, or cosmetic.

In addition, the final order enables the FTC to take possession of thousands of pieces of consumer mail held for the defendants at Mail Boxes, Etc. locations in the United States so that the FTC can return the product orders to consumers. The estimated value of these unfulfilled product orders is over $100,000. The order also prohibits the defendants from selling or otherwise disclosing their customer mailing lists for Quick Slim or Cellu-Fight to other marketers.

Further, the order requires the defendants to pay $40,000 (U.S. dollars) for consumer redress. The order also requires the defendants to pay $12 million in the event that the financial disclosure of information given by them to the FTC proves to be false.

The Commission vote of authorize staff to file the proposed stipulated final order was 5-0. The order was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, on July 10, 2003, and requires the court’s approval.