Supplement Maker To Pay $2.65M To Settle Suit

Irwin Naturals agreed to pay $2.65 million over allegations of misleading advertisements and failure to disclose that lead is in its products.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) -- A company that markets hoodia products has agreed to pay $2.65 million over allegations of misleading advertisements and failure to disclose that lead is in its products, a settlement that prosecutors said Tuesday is the largest paid by a dietary supplement manufacturer for unfair business practices in California.

The 10 district attorneys that sued Irwin Naturals Inc. over misleading advertising signed the settlement Tuesday. The civil lawsuit in Orange County was filed by the prosecutors for Alameda, Marin, Monterey, Napa, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Solano and Sonoma counties.

They accused the Los Angeles-based company of marketing products with more than the amount of lead allowed under Proposition 65, a state law that requires labeling to disclose any carcinogens. Testing revealed that some Irwin Naturals' Hoodia products contained 10 times the legal limit of lead.

A product called "Green Tea Fat Burner" also contained more than 14 times the legal limit for lead, tests showed.

An investigative team tasked with evaluating dietary supplement claims found that the products also didn't contain Hoodia, an African herb that is sparking the latest diet craze.

The company sells its products in retail stores and through direct sales. It stopped selling items and reformulated many products after it was informed about the test results.

The settlement doesn't require Irwin Naturals to acknowledge fault or liability. The company was ordered to label its products with warnings about lead and reimburse customers for returns.

It also must pay $1.95 million in civil penalties, $100,000 in restitution to customers who were promised refunds and $600,000 in investigative costs.

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