The defendants, Robert Barefoot, Deonna Enterprises and Karbo Enterprises, have also been banned from making unsupported claims that the body absorbs coral calcium better than other calcium supplements in the market.
The news will be welcomed by the makers of calcium products who have seen coral calcium surge ahead in sales in recent months. Calcium is one of the best-selling minerals, due to recognition from the medical community that it can play a major role in prevention of osteoporosis. But according to SPINS data, Coral Calcium sales in natural product supermarkets increased by 2500 per cent in the 52 weeks to August 9, 2003, while all other calcium supplements saw growth of just 16 per cent.
The recent settlement resolves charges from a complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission in June last year alleging that the companies, together with Kevin Trudeau, Shop America (USA), Shop America Marketing Group and TruStar Global Media, made false and unsubstantiated claims in a widely disseminated infomercial (they claimed that Coral Calcium Supreme would treat or cure cancer and heart disease, among others).
The FTC also challenged claims that a daily serving of Coral Calcium Supreme provides the same amount of bioavailable calcium as two gallons of milk, and that the body absorbs significantly more of the calcium in coral calcium - up to 100 times more, and at a significantly faster rate - than the calcium contained in commonly available calcium supplements.
The FTC said that the challenged claims go far beyond the existing scientific evidence concerning the recognized health benefits of calcium.
The settlement also requires the companies to recall any product packaging that makes the challenged claims and to send a notice to resellers and distributors advising them of the FTC's action, with directions to stop using promotional materials containing the deceptive claims.
Based on the defendants' financial condition, the settlement does not require additional redress but it does contain an avalanche clause of $3 million, if the court finds that the defendants misrepresented their financial condition.
The case against Kevin Trudeau and his companies is still pending.