FDA puts the kibosh on woo-woo distributor

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced an injunction against Wilderness Family Naturals LLC of Silver Bay, Minnesota, citing unapproved disease treatment claims on the company’s labels.
By the “unapproved-disease-treatment-claims” standard, the American public should expect a continued flurry of injunctions through the year 2045 and a complete grinding to a halt of late-night television, unless the “Girls Gone Wild” leadership can step up and create even more freaky Caribbean drum music to go with its video snippets and their frustratingly positioned black no-no bars.

But I digress. The company is by no means being shut down, but was forced to sign a consent decree barring it from doing what it hitherto has done, which is to tout its products as being effective in the treatment of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hyperthyroidism, chronic fatigue syndrome, HIV and AIDS, and arthritis. WFN, in fact, can keep right on making the same shit, if I understand things correctly; they just can’t make the same outrageous claims about them. My thinking is that anyone deluded or desperate enough to buy an OTC herbal for cancer or AIDS in the first place isn’t going to abandon the product merely because the big bad wolf stepped in and messed with some words on the label. In fact, many may never notice. So WFN isn’t likely to lose any existing customers, although hopefully it will suffer a massive drop-off in future ones.
I took a spin around the company’s Web site, and it offers no hint that WFN has taken a legal kick in the balls, although vendors hit with suits and the like usually manage to avoid the scuttling of content or back-pedaling. It just looks like any other woo-vendor’s page. At present the featured product is virgin coconut oil, of which there are various kinds. I’m not sure what the rest of us are supposed to cook with.
Also large on the front page are extra virgin olive oil and organic mayonnaise. Standard stuff, except that the mayo costs about ten bucks a pint. Why? Because it tastes good. According to the site, it’s blend of oils “create a “very distinctive, natural flavor and the blend creates a product unlike any other mayonnaise on the market.”
The only other product I clicked on was French dressing, because I happen to like French dressing and, having established a baseline in terms of mark-up from store brand, I wanted to see how accurately I could guess its cost.
I usually get a pint of salad dressing for two bucks. So I was guessing that the WFN brand would be $10.99, because of, you know, all of those tasty oils, not to mention authentic herbs and a tantalizing…OK, let’s just check the price. Well, I was close! $6.95 per 12-ounce bottle is about $9.25 a pint. These guys aren’t as bourgeoisie as I thought!
So basically, stripped of the latitude to engage in egregious false advertising, we appear to be left with nothing more than an online condiment store boasting a ridiculously overpriced inventory. The lesson here is that woo-woo is never a product itself, but a claim about that product. There’s nothing wrong with eating organic mustard as long as it’s not poisoning you, but if you’re spending $15 per jar, you should at least feel confident that your motivation for choosing the brand has been informed my reliable, credible sources.

  1. #1 by Michael Render on December 10, 2008 - 11:28 am

    How dare you call for informed decision making. Those of us who are Gullible and Stupid (GAS) want the freedom to spend too much money on false claims. And we want two seats on an airplane!

  2. #2 by rBST on December 10, 2008 - 12:28 pm

    I curiously wonder if people respond differently to the price tag of similar items, trusting more the expensive over less expensive product. Also, it has taken people’s better sensibilities to keep up with (and catch on to) the “organic” flimflam. What does organic mean anyway?
    Also curious is the mayo claim. I make that stuff using some eggs, oil, salt, pepper, and a tiny bit of paprika and it costs me just a little bit of time to assemble. That’s not a brag, it’s a fact. Most everything tastes better if you just put time, attention and care into it. But people are generally lazy and do not object to someone else feeding them good stuff. And the most expensive and wordy the good stuff, the better. Head games, that’s where it’s at.
    How is extra virgin organic coconut oil grown and processed differently than non-organic? Specifically, is the “organic” in the growing of the palm or in the process of extracting of the oil?

  3. #3 by Crack Pipe Lenny on December 10, 2008 - 2:22 pm

    What does organic mean anyway?

    It means it has fucking CARBON in it! Yep, that’s it! What the hell doesn’t? It’s only the most prevalent fucking element there is in the food chain in terms of mass. “Organic,” fuck. It’s like the new “NATURAL”! What food ISN’T natural? Maybe one of those magic fucking crackers they hand out at mass or the Hawaiian Punch that turns into MD 20/20 when some shitpushing old man with a backward collar is close enough to watch.

  4. #4 by Warren on December 10, 2008 - 2:52 pm

    At present the featured product is virgin coconut oil, of which there are various kinds. I’m not sure what the rest of us are supposed to cook with.
    There’s nothing I hate more than using the Sloppy Seconds coconut oil. It really throws off the taste of my apple fritters.

  5. #5 by JimFiore on December 10, 2008 - 4:18 pm

    Sorry Lenny, but we’re not talking about organic chemistry here. “Organic” has a legal definition in the USA. You can find out more about it by going to usda.gov. Here is a quick peek: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELDEV3004445&acct=nopgeninfo
    Basically, in order for something to be labeled “organic” it has to meet certain production and handling requirements (like no use of pesticides, methods of waste disposal, etc.)

  6. #6 by rBST on December 10, 2008 - 5:30 pm

    Okay, I actually do understand what “organic” means (I was just being naive and cynical for the moment) as a marketing ploy, but I understand its application less for a product that has to undergo some sort of removed production process. I can take, on faith, that a bunch of bananas labeled “organic” is, indeed, organic. But organic coconut oil? You mention that “organic” could be applied to waste removal, which means that it ought to apply to the container in which the oil is contained. So the container is made from…what? Recycled bamboo? Sheep earwax? Or just boring old re-recycled plastic containers? What were those plastic containers used before its rebirth? Huh? Huh?! HUH?!
    Am I holding my life in a dangerous balance if I refuse to be taken in by the organic trend? I read Omnivore’s Dilema, which affirmed my skepticism over the organic thing. Once capitalism took over, the “organic” in organic became diluted and a ploy. Okay, I’m sure this isn’t where Kevin had intended the post to go. Basically I just cannot get on board if the value to me can’t be scaled to show results. Or…something.

  7. #7 by JimFiore on December 10, 2008 - 10:42 pm

    “waste disposal” generally refers to things like excrement from farm animals. As for the remainder of your commentary all I can say is “Me like chocolate”.

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