WASHINGTON--The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requesting the agency take enforcement action against ConsumerLab.com, alleging the company is engaged in unfair and deceptive business practices. CRN is requesting the agency force ConsumerLab.com to make a series of changes including making public all test results, regardless of whether companies paid money to ConsumerLab, identifying its contract labs and testing methodologies, and changing its business name.
"Until now, nobody has looked behind the curtain and exposed ConsumerLab.com's tactics," said Annette Dickinson, Ph.D., president of CRN (www.crnusa.org). "It is a business, not a watchdog--one that intimidates manufacturers to pay for its services. We ask FTC to lift the veil this company uses to disguise its true nature."
CRN cited several examples of ConsumerLab.com's allegedly deceptive business practices, including not disclosing the material fact that it requires manufacturers to pay a fee for gaining positive or avoiding negative publicity associated with testing products. According to the complaint, ConsumerLab only publicizes adverse test results from dietary supplement companies that do not pay for testing; companies that do pay and have products that fail to meet testing criteria do not have those results released. Further, the complaint noted, positive test results are only publicized for free if the companies have paid for testing. In addition, CRN alleges the name "ConsumerLab" deceptively suggests the company operates a laboratory.
Tod Cooperman, M.D., president of ConsumerLab.com, issued a response to CRN and FTC, claiming the complaint is full of inaccuracies. "What ConsumerLab.com is and what it does is clearly explained on our Web site and in our book, and we do not violate any FTC regulations," he wrote. Cooperman said ConsumerLab.com publishes the findings for all products it tests and uses outside laboratories to blind the product identities and use the most accurate methodologies. "The reason we do not publicly disclose the names of these labs is because members of your industry have threatened several with loss of business," Cooperman added. The response suggested CRN is "shooting the messenger" by casting doubts on ConsumerLab.com's research and credibility, and requested CRN take immediate corrective action.