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LEHI — Two multi-milllion dollar companies headquartered in Utah are under scrutiny by the Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA warned them that their products are improperly labeled and is seeking corrective action immediately.
Approximately 100,000 independent consultants work for doTERRA, headquartered in Pleasant Grove, and Young Living Essential Oils, based in Lehi. These companies produce essential oils, but the FDA claims the products are misleading to consumers.
In letters addressed to the companies on Monday, the FDA said:
"…the labeling of these products fails to bear adequate directions for their intended use and, therefore the products are misbranded."
The FDA said both doTERRA and Young Living advertised some of their oils as "cures" for viral infections, including Ebola.
The letter also stated the companies advertise oils as treatments for cancer, autism, and Alzheimer’s, among a lengthy list of other diseases. Under those claims, the FDA said the oils would need to be tested and administered as prescription drugs to be legal.
Officials gave the companies 15 days to notify the FDA of corrective actions.
Because dōTERRA's products are natural products and are not registered with the FDA as drugs, we are restricted on the health claims that can be made for marketing purposes. We recognize essential oils have profound health benefits, but do not claim that our products cure or treat diseases including the Ebola virus.
Social media posts with false claims are what put these companies on the FDA radar. Twitter user @munira claims to be an independent consultant for doTERRA and tweeted: "Learn about Cinnamon effect on Diabetes and cancer. #essentialoil #DoTERRA." A Young Living consultant had an ad that said "Viruses (including Ebola) are no match for Young Living Essential Oils."
With more than 600,000 distributors across the globe working for Young living, COO Travis Ogden says it's hard to police these ads.
"Our legal team has already reached out to them and are talking to them to make sure that they know how to properly share the products," Ogden said. "We are going to make sure that all of their actions are in compliance."
Consultants that refuse to abide by the policies will be dropped as an independent distributor, Ogden added.
"We're already coordinating with them to make sure that within those 15 days we're going to meet every request that they have in their letter," he said.
KSL reached out to doTERRA for a comment they gave the following statement:
"Yesterday we received a letter of warning from the FDA. It addressed the way a select few of our distributors have been marketing essential oils online. Because dōTERRA's products are natural products and are not registered with the FDA as drugs, we are restricted on the health claims that can be made for marketing purposes. We recognize essential oils have profound health benefits, but do not claim that our products cure or treat diseases including the Ebola virus."
Read the full statement here.
KSL consumer reporter Bill Gephardt told Utah's Morning News, "People buy this stuff because people like to trust each other. But if it's not true, it should be disclosed. The FDA would demand some sort of study, conducted by an independent neutral source to verify the claims. Other than that, don't make the claims."
Contributing: Mary Richards