FTC Catches Bad Press For Doing Job Over Nestlé Milk

The Christian Science Monitor posted an article, “Does the FTC really protect consumers?” straight from Mises Economics Blog.

The article claimed that the FTC was putting protecting consumers from fraud on the back burner and appeared to be more concerned with “expanding the federal government’s monopoly over food-and-drug-related speech”.

This bold statement was made over Nestlé’s own Boost brand of drinks called “Kid Essentials”. The label on the box evidently claimed that it has “Immunity Protection” which meant it was a “nutritionally complete drink with Probiotics to help keep kids healthy” through its snazzy patented “probiotic straw” design.

It appears that the claim of health benefits has not yet been proven by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and while the article states that “FDA approval of health claims generally is not required for compliance with the FTC Act” the FTC took a liking to this case.

Perhaps because it involved potentially false adversing in children’s products that deceitfully promoted improvement in their health when there was not proof of this so-called “improvement”?? Or perchance Nestlé was cornering the market on chocolate milk with increased immunity when in fact this was unverified? Or maybe, just maybe because, “probiotics are live, beneficial bacteria that are found naturally in many foods, and they are known for aiding digestion and fighting harmful bacteria” and are not embedded in a patented straw? – Source

If I’m not mistaken (and I don’t reckon I am), I do believe that the very FTC act they mentioned does pertain an interesting little nugget of consumer protection to protect against “unfair methods of competition”. – Source

The act states that whenever the FTC has “reason to believe that any such person, partnership, or corporation has been or is using any unfair method of competition or unfair or deceptive act or practice in or affecting commerce, and if it shall appear to the Commission that a proceeding by it in respect thereof would be to the interest of the public”

Apparently, in congruence with the act, the FTC felt that Nestlé’s false advertisement of proclaiming their product would increase immunity to sickness was either an “unfair method of competition” or an “unfair or deceptive act or practice in or affecting commerce”.

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Per the Act, the FTC would have to issue a complaint and give Nestlé thirty days to respond or “cease and desist from the violation of the law”. And our friends at Nestlé, after being issued this complaint agreed to cease and desist from their violation of the law.

The article continued to refer to the protection the FTC is providing as a “nice sleight-of hand” and continues with “the FTC wants to restrict all commercial speech to only those statements pre-approved by the government”.

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The author also proclaimed in this article that the FTC “routinely violates the civil rights of American citizens”.

Since the FTC has not restricted the right to bear arms, conditions for quarters of soldiers, the right to a speedy trial or any other of our first ten amendments I can only assume the author of this article is accusing the FTC for violating the first amendment of free speech.

Last time I checked free speech was not defined as the largest food and nutrition company promoting health benefits to parents and children through the purchase of their chocolate milk without sound evidence. No. I believe that’s called advertising. And correct me if I’m wrong but which of those ‘pesky’ government agencies protects consumers in this country against fraud AND false advertising? Hmmm…. Oh yea! The FTC. Darn those rascals for doing their job! Sneaky, sneaky!

What I’ve learned from the mentality of this article is the next time the FTC goes after a debt collection or settlement agency that uses false claims that let’s say, ‘guarantees they will get you out of debt for “X” amount of dollars per month’ when there is no proven truth in that statement then they should really back off and let this company advertise this service, even if it doesn’t work and will loose you money in the long run.

After all this article has taught me that, it apparently is not the FTC’s role in this country to protect consumers from false advertising. Especially when it comes to the children of this country. Apparently the FTC wants to provide the truth to parents about what is advertised to their children as healthy and this is, according to the article, “protecting and expanding the federal government’s monopoly over food-and-drug-related speech.”

More importantly, what do you have to say for yourself FTC? “‘‪Nestlé’s claims that its probiotic product would prevent kids from getting sick or missing school just didn’t stand up to scrutiny,’ said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.  ‘Parents want to do right by their kids, and the FTC is helping them by monitoring ads and stopping those that are deceptive.’” – Source

I write this next statement with every ounce of sarcasm I can muster in my being (and trust me, there’s quite a bit). Way to look out for the health and well being of children in America. How DARE you do your job FTC? Way to go and ruin my day and protect me and my children from false advertisement! How dare you put my child’s interest first and not want me to think that this will better my child’s health because it doesn’t?? This is October 2009 all over again when you warned me of fraudulent H1N1 flu supplements not approved by the FDA! How dare you consider my health and well being? Way to be on top of your job. Geez.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go weep openly, both sarcastically towards all that the FTC has done and less sarcastically at my astonishment to this original article.

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