TINA.org Pursues Complaints Against Kids’ Supplement
March 28th, 2013
The founder and president of a dietary supplement company marketing a “patented” formula to children with speech delays confirmed this week that there is no patent issued for the product, that a majority of testimonial photos on the site were purchased from an image company and are not photos of families quoted on the site, and that a seemingly independent research site linked to the company’s website is actually owned by the company.
NourishLife, LLC president and founder Mark Nottoli’s comments came in response to a letter TINA.org sent March 19, 2013 outlining several deceptive marketing concerns. But despite this, the Illinois-based company has not complied with TINA.org’s request that it correct its marketing claims for the supplement – SpeechNutrients speak™ (“Speak”) – and notify its customers about the misleading advertising. Wednesday, TINA.org filed complaints with federal and state regulators urging them to take action.
In TINA.org’s letter to Nottoli, the nonprofit advocacy group based in Madison, Conn. outlined five marketing concerns:
- No patent has been issued for the formula, despite claims by the company dating back to 2008 that it is patented.
- There is no competent and reliable scientific evidence to support the company’s claims about Speak’s efficacy.
- The company claims the supplement contains “pharmaceutical grade” omega-3 when there is no such thing.
- All but one of the “family” photos associated with the testimonials regarding the effectiveness of Speak posted on the company’s website – www.speechnutrients.com – are professional photos purchased from iStockphoto.com, but the site does not disclose that to consumers.
- The ApraxiaResearch.com website linked to NourishLife’s site, which poses as an independent site that parents are referred to in order to get more information on studies, is actually owned by NourishLife and is just another marketing tool used to sell Speak.
In addition to these marketing issues, the supplement contains highly elevated levels of vitamin E, which Nottoli does not deny. In fact, the levels of vitamin E exceed the tolerable upper intake levels (i.e., the highest average daily intake level that one should consume because of the risk of adverse health effects) set by the Food and Nutrition Board. Medical studies suggest that high levels of vitamin E may be harmful, though Nottoli disputes this fact, claiming that these elevated levels are actually beneficial.