Amazing—the little “Like” button has the power to magically turn supplements into drugs. Action Alert!
You will recall how the FDA threatened cherry growers and walnut producers with jail if they opened their mouths about the curative powers of these foods. Now the FDA has issued a warning letter to the Utah nutritional supplement company Zarbee’s, Inc.
The most troubling part of the letter concerns Zarbee’s participation on Twitter and Facebook. The agency says that when the company “likes” their customer’s Facebook comments, they are essentially endorsing the customer’s statement.
In other words, when customers say a product has helped their children stop coughing or has relieved their bronchitis, and Zarbee’s “likes” that post, the FDA believes they are essentially saying, “We certify that everything you have written is scientifically accurate.”
Let’s say a customer writes that a product eased his allergies; once Zarbee’s presses that little Like button, they miraculously turn the customer’s innocuous statement into a claim—an illegal one, punishable by fines or jail—that their product cures or prevents disease. The same holds true even when a consumer makes a statement that few would consider a “disease claim,” such as a product helping their child sleep.
Of course, companies should not be responsible for customers’ comments. By targeting companies for “liking” such comments, the FDA is censoring consumer speech.
Regular readers will recall that this is the second time the FDA has tried to exert complete control over Facebook “likes.” This follows agency efforts to argue that producers are also responsible for anything a merchandiser of the supplement says. The FDA is also using a very elastic interpretation of what constitutes a disease claim, whether explicit or implied. As any Facebook user realizes, a “like” may simply be a passive acknowledgement of someone’s comment; surely it is a stretch to consider any comment that even mentions cancer to be a disease claim!
Action Alert! Tell FDA that its attempts to censor consumer free speech and Internet searches is unacceptable, and let the agency know it has once again completely overstepped its bounds. Send your message today!