FTC warns companies of potential fines, including one at center of Ch. 9 investigation

WASHINGTON — The Federal Trade Commission is warning hundreds of companies that they could face penalties, including one at the center of a yearslong Channel 9 investigation.

Channel 9 has reported on several people who claim a tea they drank to lose weight caused them to fail drug tests and lose their jobs. We were the first in the country to break the news of their claims against the company, Total Life Changes.

We discovered that raspberry lemonade tea was marketed on Total Life Changes’ website and on the label as having 0.0% THC. But Channel 9 took samples to a lab for testing. The director said those tests showed trace amounts of THC, which he said -- with repeated consumption -- could build up in a person’s system, potentially causing them to fail a drug test.


Now, the FTC is telling advertisers, including Total Life Changes, not to deceive their clients with product claims that can’t be backed up or substantiated. Those who do will be given civil penalties, the FTC said.

“The requirement for advertisers to have adequate support for their advertising claims at the time they’re made is a bedrock principle of FTC law,” said Sam Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection in a news release. “The prospect of steep civil penalties will help ensure that advertisers don’t play fast and loose with the truth.”

The FTC noted that many sellers continue to make false and unsubstantiated claims, and so the agency is using its authority in this notice to remind them of the law. The agency can seek up to $50,120 in civil penalties per violation.

The notice outlines specific actions that are against the law, including failing to have:

  1. A reasonable basis consisting of competent and reliable evidence for objective product claims;
  2. Competent and reliable scientific evidence to support health or safety claims; and
  3. At least one well-controlled human clinical trial to support claims that a product is effective in curing, mitigating, or treating a serious disease.

It also includes:

  • Misrepresenting the level or type of substantiation for a claim
  • Misrepresenting that a product claim has been scientifically or clinically proven.

TLC no longer advertises its raspberry lemonade tea as having 0.0% THC, and since Channel 9’s first report on this issue in March 2021, the company website has included a disclaimer saying people subject to drug testing should not drink it.

(WATCH BELOW: Channel 9 tracks down CEO of tea company women blame for failed drug tests)