Feds Squish Bed Bug Claims
Companies failed to back up claims they could prevent and eliminate infestations
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
The Federal Trade Commission has filed deceptive advertising charges against two marketers of remedies for bed bug infestations, charging that the companies allegedly failed to back up overhyped claims that they could prevent and eliminate infestations using natural ingredients, such as cinnamon and cedar oil. One marketer also allegedly made misleading claims that its products were effective against head lice.
In one of the two cases, RMB Group, LLC and its principals have agreed to settle the charges relating to their “Rest Easy” bed bug products. In the case against Cedarcide Industries, Inc. and others, challenging their marketing of “Best Yet!” bed bug and head lice treatments, the defendants have not settled, and the FTC is beginning litigation against them.
Bed bugs have been a growing public health pest in recent years, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Consumers plagued with bed bugs experience considerable stress, discomfort, and expense in attempting to rid themselves of these pests, and many are unaware of the complex measures needed to prevent and control them, according to the EPA.
Consumers concerned about bed bugs also should see the FTC publication, “Good Night, Sleep Tight, and Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite . . . Your Wallet,” which urges caution about advertisements that offer quick solutions, and provides advice to consumers for treating bed bug infestations.
Also, as children head back to school this fall, the FTC urges parents to carefully research products that claim to treat head lice infestations.
In both cases, the FTC charged the marketing companies – as well as the individuals behind them – with deceptive advertising for claiming that their products can stop and prevent bed bug infestations. The Cedarcide defendants also are charged with making deceptive claims that their product can stop and prevent head lice infestations, and that the federal government endorses and is affiliated with their product.
The Cedarcide Industries, Inc. defendants market BEST Yet!, a line of cedar-oil-based liquid products they claim will treat and prevent bed bug and head lice infestations. The defendants sell the product to consumers nationwide. They also sell it to hotels and other commercial establishments for treating bed bugs, and to school districts for treating head lice.
Consumers can buy the product online, by phone, at the Cedarcide website, and at Amazon.com. The cost of the products ranges from $29.95 for the quart-sized spray bottle to $3,394.95 for a hotel-motel bed bug eradication kit.
One radio advertisement for the product stated:
“In light of the recent bed bug media frenzy that has all of us nervous, you need to know that bed bug prevention and eradication relief are available. So let’s not all freak out. All you need is Best Yet from CedarCide.com. . . . Best Yet was developed at the request of the USDA for our military, as a solution for killing sand fleas. But guess what, it’s equally deadly to bed bugs, larvae and eggs.”
The FTC complaint charges that the Cedarcide defendants make:
- unsupported claims that Best Yet!is effective at stopping and preventing bed bug infestations and that it is more effective than synthetic pesticides at doing so;
- false claims that scientific studies prove Best Yet!is effective at stopping and preventing bed bug infestations, and that it is more effective than synthetic pesticides at doing so;
- a false claim that the Environmental Protection Agency has warned consumers to avoid all synthetic pesticides for treating bed bug infestations;
- unsupported claims that Best Yet!is effective in stopping and preventing head lice infestations, killing head lice eggs, dissolving the glue that binds head lice eggs (known as nits) to hair, and killing head lice and their eggs in a single treatment; and
- false claims that scientific studies prove Best Yet! is effective in stopping and preventing head lice infestations.
- false claims that Best Yet!was invented for the U.S. Army at the request of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and that the USDA has acknowledged the product as the number one choice of bio-based pesticides.