Space & Innovation

$9 Million Fine for Green Coffee Bean Deception

The manufacturer of a coffee bean extract promoted on 'The Dr. Oz' show has been fined $9 million for false claims and deceptive practices. Continue reading →

It seems that magic beans only exist in fairy tales.

Following consumer complaints and a June 2014 congressional hearing, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken action against the manufacturer of a green coffee bean extract heavily promoted by Dr. Oz on his popular television show.

According to the FTC Lindsey Duncan, an officer of a company called Genesis Today, Inc., made deceptive and unsubstantiated claims about weight loss products as guest on "Dr. Oz" and elsewhere.

TV Medical Show Claims Not Backed by Science

This is not the first time that the credibility of both Dr. Oz and Duncan has been challenged when it comes to claims made about the coffee bean extract. In October 2014 the coauthors of the one and only study that supported the weight loss claims repeated by Oz retracted it:

"The sponsors of the study cannot assure the validity of the data so we, Joe Vinson and Bryan Burnham, are retracting the paper."

With the "scientists" disowning their research, public pressure built and the FTC took action.

A press release earlier this week from the FTC noted:

"Lindsey Duncan and the companies he controlled have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they deceptively touted the supposed weight-loss benefits of green coffee bean extract through a campaign that included appearances on ‘The Dr. Oz Show', ‘The View', and other television programs. Under the FTC settlement, the defendants are barred from making deceptive claims about the health benefits or efficacy of any dietary supplement or drug product, and will pay $9 million for consumer redress."

Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, added that "Lindsey Duncan and his companies made millions by falsely claiming that green coffee bean supplements cause significant and rapid weight loss. This case shows that the Federal Trade Commission will continue to fight deceptive marketers' attempts to prey on consumers trying to improve their health."

This Diet Linked to Longer Life For Women

According to the FTC, the deception that Duncan and other company spokesmen engaged in included appearing on television shows portraying themselves as independent nutrition experts and consumer advocates without disclosing that they were paid to promote green coffee bean extract and other supplements. The full settlement can be found on the FTC web site.

False and deceptive claims made by Dr. Oz, Lindsey Duncan and others about green coffee beans are only the tip of the iceberg. A study in the December 2014 "British Medical Journal" analyzed the medical advice given on TV talk shows and found that many of the claims are unproven or unsubstantiated.

The researchers examined health and nutrition claims made on "The Dr. Oz Show" and "The Doctors" to see if they were supported by studies in the published, peer-reviewed literature. The researchers found that "For recommendations in ‘The Dr. Oz Show,' evidence supported 46 percent, contradicted 15 percent, and was not found for 39 percent."

Therefore less than half the time the advice Dr. Oz was giving was based in science. Hopefully some of the $9 million fine will be used to help educate the public about media literacy and be skeptical of weight loss miracles and fairy tales.