From paying $425 for a cleanse to claiming “healing stickers” are made from material designed for NASA space suits, Gwyneth Paltrow’s “modern lifestyle brand” Goop is no stranger to controversy. Now, a consumer watchdog group is asking regulators in California to investigate the product line for deceptive advertising.
The folks at Truth In Advertising have sent a complaint letter [PDF], urging attorneys for the California Food Drug and Medical Device Task Force to investigate what it claims are Goop’s unsubstantiated and deceptive health and disease treatment claims.
TINA, as the watchdog group is known, claims that its investigation of Goop found more than 50 instances of the company claiming that its products, or third-party products sold via Goop, could treat, cure, prevent, alleviate, or reduce the risk of ailments, ranging from depression, anxiety, to infertility and arthritis.
“The problem is that the company does not possess the competent and reliable scientific evidence required by law to make such claims,” TINA alleges in a statement.
Among the advertising claims questioned by TINA:
• That carnelian crystal “treats infertility,” in addition to “easing period cramps, tempering PMS, regulating menstrual cycles,… and addressing shame around female body parts and sexual trauma.”
• “Jade eggs can… prevent uterine prolapse.”
• Goop’s essential oils can “help tremendously with chronic issues from anxiety and depression to migraines.”
• Goop’s Black Rose Bar is “brilliant for treating acne, eczema, and psoriasis.”
A full list of the claims challenged by TINA can be found on the organization’s website.
Additionally, TINA notes that its representatives attended Goop’s first-ever wellness summit, “In Goop Health,” in June.
At the conference, TINA staffers, who were undercover, paid $500 to $1,500 for the chance to sit in on panel discussions and test products that were purported to have cognitive benefits.
At the conference, TINA reps spoke with a barista serving cups of Bulletproof Coffee — a Goop partner brand. The barista claimed that the grass-fed butter in the coffee increased brain function, among other things.
When the barista was asked to explain how brain function was affected by the coffee, the individual provided a “garbled” answer that included an explanation that “you feel a little bit different.”
Issuing A Warning
Armed with these examples, TINA sent a warning letter [PDF] to Goop and Paltrow about its concerns on Aug. 11, signaling its intent to alert regulators if Goop failed to take action on the claims by Aug. 18.
According to TINA, the organization was in contact with Goop’s legal counsel and provided the company with a list of Goop and Goop-promoted webpages containing illegal health claims.
Goop to date has only made limited changes to its marketing, TINA claims.
As a result, TINA filed its letter with the district attorneys for the California Food, Drug and Medical Device Task Force.
“Marketing products as having the ability to treat diseases and disorders not only violates established law but is a terribly deceptive marketing ploy that is being used by Goop to exploit women for its own financial gain,” Bonnie Patten, executive director for TINA, said in a statement. “Goop needs to stop its misleading profits-over-people marketing immediately.”
Consumerist has reached out to Goop for comment on TINA’s letters.