DSSRC Recommends Direct Selling Company Aihu Discontinue Certain Health-Related Product Performance Claims
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McLean, VA – June 10, 2021 – The Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC) of BBB National Programs today recommended the discontinuation of several product performance claims made on the company website and in social media by Aihu, Inc, a direct selling company that sells biodegradable, organic essential oil skincare products.
The Aihu inquiry commenced through DSSRC’s ongoing independent monitoring of advertising and marketing claims in the direct selling industry. DSSRC was concerned that the representative claims communicated that Aihu’s products could protect against serious health-related conditions.
DSSRC identified and recommended for discontinuation several consumer testimonials on Aihu’s website (www.aihu.net) that referenced the ability of Aihu’s products to relieve or eliminate several health-related conditions, including allergies and arthritis.
- “… significantly decreases the possibility of allergies or other adverse effects which is extremely important in the health care setting. The quality of ingredients are far superior to other products on the market.”
- “I use the Therapeutic Gel on my thumbs to relieve arthritis pain. Almost immediately the pain is gone, which has allowed me to continue on in my practice without having to be dependent on pain relieving pills.”
The DSSRC discontinuation recommendation also applies to the following product claims on Facebook:
- “Basil is well known for its ability to treat nausea, motion sickness, indigestion, constipation, and respiratory problems. Basil essential oil has a refreshing effect when smelled, so it is used for treating nervous tension or mental fatigue. Due to the calming nature of basil essential oil, it is regularly used in providing mental strength and clarity. Basil essential oil is an analgesic and provides relief from pain. That is why this essential oil is often used in the treatment of arthritis, wounds, injuries, burns, bruises, scars, sports injuries, surgical recovery, sprains, and headaches.”
- “The health Benefits of Thyme Essential Oil can be attributed to its properties as an antibacterial. This simply means, when applied to skin, that it inhibits bacterial growth outside of the body. Thyme is also well known as a stimulate. It helps aid in stimulating circulation to relieve joint pain associated with arthritis or gout. Thyme essential oil is also a great antiseptic to safeguard wounds and sores against infections in the body. When you are suffering from colds and coughs, you need to find an expectorant. Thyme essential oil is a great one! It helps cure infections that cause cough and cold and drains congestion, thereby giving relief from coughs and colds.”
- “Therapeutic Healing Gel: has been used for chemo patients to reduce nausea, helps sleep and take the edge off of pain, helps fibromyalgia, headaches, arthritis, and sore muscles.”
- “Testimonials point to the relief given to assist with arthritis pain, muscle aches, fatigue, fibromyalgia, migraines and sinus pain, as well as helping to offset chemotherapy side effects.”
Regarding the testimonial claims made both on Facebook and on the company’s website, DSSRC determined that positive reports from users of the product may lead a reasonable consumer to take away that the statements of product efficacy have been proven. However positive statements from certain product users are considered anecdotal and cannot be relied on as a substitute for the type of competent and reliable evidence needed here to support these health-related claims communicated by Aihu salesforce members.
As has been noted in previous DSSRC cases, outside of reflecting honest opinions of satisfied users, testimonials cannot replace actual evidence as support for advertising claims. An advertiser may not make claims through consumer testimonials that could not be substantiated if made independent by the advertiser, and that anecdotal evidence, based solely on the experiences of individual consumers, is insufficient to support product efficacy claims.
DSSRC noted that it is well established that claims concerning the efficacy of health products should be supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) generally defines competent and reliable scientific evidence as: “test, analyses, research, studies, or other evidence based on the expertise of professionals in the relevant area that has been conducted and evaluated in an objective manner by persons qualified to do so, using procedures generally accepted in the profession to yield accurate and reliable results.” The fact that the health-related claims were communicated by consumers and not the advertiser itself does not absolve an advertiser of its responsibility to provide the necessary support for claims of product efficacy.
Aihu did not contest DSSRC’s position that the health claims communicated in the reviewed testimonials were inaccurate and did not attempt to substantiate the statements with independent testing data. Accordingly, DSSRC recommended that the Aihu take whatever actions were necessary to disable the posts and remove the testimonials from their company website.
Regarding the efficacy claims made by Aihu salesforce members for the ingredients in three of Aihu’s products, DSSRC determined that a reasonable consumer take away from the claims is that the product could provide the stated benefits based upon the presence of those ingredients in the product. However, the Aihu did not provide any evidence that the ingredients as contained in Aihu products could deliver the results stated by the salesforce member. In the absence of such evidence, DSSRC recommended that the posts be removed.
Aihu participated in the DSSRC process, promising to discontinue the claims in question, however DSSRC noted that though the testimonial claims had been removed from the company website, the Facebook posts that had been brought to the advertiser’s attention remain active. DSSRC requested to see a copy of the takedown requests that Aihu provided to its salesforce members responsible for the active posts and Aihu has yet to provide that documentation to DSSRC.
DSSRC will continue to check in with Aihu on the posts that remain active. In Aihu’s company statement it “accepts DSSRC’s decision in its entirety and agrees to adhere to its recommendations.”
About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. The non-profit organization creates a fairer playing field for businesses and a better experience for consumers through the development and delivery of effective third-party accountability and dispute resolution programs. Embracing its role as an independent organization since the restructuring of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in June 2019, BBB National Programs today oversees more than a dozen leading national industry self-regulation programs, and continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-directed marketing, and privacy. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.
About the Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council: The Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC), a division of BBB National Programs, provides independent, impartial monitoring, dispute resolution, and enforcement of false product claims and income representations made by direct selling companies and their salesforce members across digital platforms. The DSSRC seeks to establish high standards of integrity and business ethics for all direct selling companies in the marketplace.
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