Blumenthal hoping to pick off berry marketers

John O'Brien Mar. 24, 2009, 4:34pm


HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Fresh off a settlement regarding a calorie-burning drink, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is investigating the promotion of Acai berry products.

Blumenthal said the berries have been pitched by Internet-based companies as weight-loss products and has received numerous complaints. Other states, he says, have joined his investigation.

In addition to bogus claims of weight loss, some companies have improperly charged consumer credit cards, Blumenthal said.

"There is no competent scientific research that demonstrates any of the claimed effects of Acai berry, including weight loss, detoxification and increased energy and vitality," Blumenthal said.

"There are no magical berries from the Brazilian rainforest that cure obesity -- only painfully real credit card charges and empty weight loss promises."

Blumenthal said companies offering 14-day free trials make it impossible for consumers to cancel and charge up to $89 to their customers' credit cards. Some consumers have complained that they never received the product during the 14-day trial.

Blumenthal said various companies selling Acai berry products -- in addition to bogus weight loss claims -- have improperly charged consumer credit cards.

After promising 14-day "free trials" of Acai berry products, the companies often make it virtually impossible for consumers to cancel the trial, resulting in charges to consumer credit cards ranging anywhere from $59 to $89.

"Aggressive Acai berry pitches on the Internet entice countless consumers into free trials promising weight loss, energy and detoxification. These claims are based on folklore, traditional remedies and outright fabrications -- unproven by real scientific evidence," Blumenthal said.

In February, Blumenthal and 27 other state attorneys general entered into an agreement with Coca-Cola and Nestle that forbid the two to market their green tea drink Enviga as a weight-loss product.
Coca-Cola spokesman Ray Crockett said Enviga was never marketed that way.

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