January 22, 2004
WASHINGTON--Robert "Bob" Barefoot settled with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), agreeing to stop making claims that Coral Calcium Supreme or any other coral calcium product can treat or cure cancer, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, high blood pressure or other serious diseases. In addition, Barefoot, Donna Enterprises Inc. and Karbo Enterprises Inc. are prohibited from making unsubstantiated claims that coral calcium is more bioavailable than other calcium supplements--for instance, Coral Calcium Supreme was touted as providing the same amount of bioavailable calcium as two gallons of milk.
The settlement, announced Jan. 22, resolves charges brought against the defendants June 9, 2003. The charges against Kevin Trudeau, Shop America LLC, Shop America Marketing Group LLC and TruStar Global Media Ltd. are still pending.
Per the settlement, the defendants must recall any product packaging that makes the challenged claims. They must also send a notice to resellers and distributors advising them of FTC's action, and ask them to stop using promotional materials containing the deceptive claims.
FTC (www.ftc.gov) will also collect all royalties owed to defendant Barefoot in connection with the Coral Calcium Supreme infomercial marketing. Based on the defendants' financial status, the settlement does not require additional redress. The settlement does, however, contain an avalanche clause of $3 million if the court finds the defendants misrepresented their financial condition.
Nature's Benefit, based out of Newark, N.J., is one marketer of coral calcium supplements--and which went on record as saying it distanced itself from Barefoot because of his far-reaching claims. "Mr. Barefoot knowingly went out there and made up certain preposterous treatment claims that were not true," said Stephen Holt, M.D., president and chief executive officer of Nature's Benefit. "Coral calcium is a great product but the whole category was damaged by this hype, and this is the tragedy of this zealous marketing that goes on within the supplement industry.
"This particular product category serves as a great lesson for this industry," he added. "We go through cycles of product promotions where valuable products become over-promoted and hyped to a level that transcends any knowledge of science. Quite frankly, this industry is overloaded with marketing hucksters who will say anything and do anything to sell product."
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