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Complaint Letter to the Better Business Bureau

March 27, 2013

C. Lee Peeler, Esq.
President, Chief Executive Officer
National Advertising Review Council
70 West 36th Street
13th Floor
New York, NY 10018

Steve J. Bernas
President, Chief Executive Officer
BBB of Chicago & Northern Illinois
330 N. Wabash, Suite 2006
Chicago, IL 60611-7621

Re:       BBB’s Accreditation of NourishLife, LLC

Dear Mr. Peeler and Mr. Bernas:

I am writing to you on behalf of Truth in Advertising, Inc., a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to protecting consumers from deceptive advertising.

Since 2008, Illinois-based company, NourishLife, LLC and its subdivision, SpeechNutrients (collectively “NourishLife” or the “company”) have been advertising and selling a dietary supplement called SpeechNutrients speak™ (“Speak”) that is marketed as a treatment for childhood speech delays.  On the bottom of every single page of its website, www.speechnutrients.com, the company cites its A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.  Further, NourishLife touts the fact that it is the recipient of the BBB Complaint Free Award.[1]  It does this in order to convey to consumers that it is an honest and trustworthy company.  The problem is that NourishLife does not appear to be either honest or trustworthy.  Rather, as articulated below, the company continuously engages in deceptive marketing practices.[2]

  • It claims its formula, which is made up of omega 3 and 6, and vitamin E and K, is patented, when, in fact, there is no patent for the formula and never has been.
  • It states that there is clinical evidence to back its claim that Speak supports normal and healthy speech development and maintenance, when, in fact, there is no competent and reliable scientific evidence to support such a claim.
  • It posts testimonials on its website that are accompanied by photographs of the families – the problem is that all but one of the photos that accompany the testimonials regarding the effectiveness of Speak are fake (i.e., professional photos that were purchased on iStock.com).
  • It claims that Speak contains “pharmaceutical grade” omega-3, when, pursuant to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there is no such thing.
  • It created another website, ApraxiaResearch.com, that poses as an independent resource for information on apraxia, but is really just another forum used to market Speak.
  • Its supplement contains an amount of vitamin E that far exceeds the tolerable upper intake level set by the Food and Nutrition Board, and may be hazardous to the health of children, but it does not alert consumers to this fact.[3]

Based on these actions, NourishLife fails to meet the BBB’s Code of Business Practices, as it does not advertise honestly, tell the truth, or embody integrity.  To the contrary, NourishLife uses deceptive advertising practices to persuade parents of children with disabilities to buy Speak.[4]  Allowing NourishLife to use the BBB symbol on its website, as well as tout its A+ rating and award only adds to this deception.

In light of the BBB’s commitment to sound advertising and creating a community of trustworthy businesses, we trust the BBB will re-evaluate its rating of NourishLife and do whatever else is necessary to dispel the notion that the BBB fully supports NourishLife’s business practices.

If you have any questions or would like additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Laura Smith, Esq.
Legal Director
Truth in Advertising, Inc.

Bonnie Patten, Esq.
Executive Director
Truth in Advertising, Inc.

[1] See http://www.speechnutrients.com/about/accreditations/ (Exhibit 1).

[2] Supporting evidence for the following information can be found on our website at www.truthinadvertising.org/complaint-filed-against-nourishlife.

[3] One mother reported that her 3-year-old daughter experienced seizure-like behavior for the first time after taking Speak.  See Speech experts wary of untested supplement sold as a speech aid for kids with verbal apraxia, Deborah L. Shelton, Chicago Tribune, Sep. 16, 2010, available at http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-09-16/health/ct-met-speech-supplements-20100915_1_dietary-supplements-speech-therapy-vitamin-e-supplements (Exhibit 2).

[4] TINA.org brought this matter to the company’s attention on March 19, 2013, requesting that it correct the deceptive advertising of its product and alert its Speak customers of the issues by March 26, 2013.  The company did not comply with TINA.org’s request.  Because of this, TINA.org has filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, urging each of them to take prompt action to halt NourishLife’s deceptive advertising and marketing of Speak.  All of these letters are available at www.truthinadvertising.org/complaint-filed-against-nourishlife.

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