In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and Chemical Free Solutions LLC (“CFS”) reached a settlement barring CFS from making scientifically unsupported claims regarding the efficacy of its cedar oil-based bed bug eradication product Cedarcide Original. CFS made various false claims about its “BEST Yet!” bed bug and head lice products, including that it was invented for the U.S. Army and that the USDA acknowledged it as the number one choice of bio-based pesticides.  The 2013 consent order settling the FTC’s dispute with CFS prohibited the company from making representations about their products unless the representation is non-misleading and substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence.

However, earlier this year the FTC revisited this settlement and filed a modified final order against CFS and moved to hold David Glassel, who previously controlled CFS, in contempt for violating the original 2013 order. The court overseeing the action approved the modified final order against CFS in January 2018 and the contempt order against Glassel in February.  Under the orders, CFS admits it violated the 2013 order, both CFS and Glassel are banned from advertising, marketing, promoting, selling or helping anyone else market, promote, or sell any product claiming to kill bed bugs, and will pay $185,206 in consumer refunds and $121,236 in compensatory contempt relief.

Takeaway: The FTC continues to review product claims that suggest or imply that products are endorsed or approved by the U.S. government, certain government agencies, or law enforcement.   The FTC may file a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the FTC that a proceeding is in the public interest.