Retford boss fined for failing to disclose diet pills were dangerous

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The boss at a Retford company which made a series of unsubstantiated claims about diet pills it sold online and failed to disclose they contain a potentially deadly allergen, has been fined

Nicola Brownson-Smith, 44, director of Suede Apple Ltd, admitted four charges relating to false advertising on its packaging and website and placing unsafe product on the market by failing to declare some of the pills contained the allergen, Crustacea.

She was fined £660 and ordered to pay £500 costs at a hearing at Mansfield Magistrates Court.

The charges related to two products - Fat Blocker and Inner Cleanse, which Nottinghamshire County Council trading standards officers test purchased from the company’s website, following a tip-off from officers in another part of the country.

Labelling on the Fat Blocker pills made unauthorised health claims, including ‘blocks absorption of fat and cholesterol’, ‘sugar destroyer’, ‘fight the fat’ and ‘decreases absorption of sugar’.

While the Inner Cleanse packaging falsely claimed that taking the pills ‘relieves fluid retention’, ‘reduces cholesterol’, ‘cleanses the bowel’ and detoxes and nourishes the digestive system’.

The Foods Standards Agency asked the company to issue a product recall in relation to the Fat Blocker pills, after they were found to contain the allergen, Crustacea - which could put consumers at risk of potentially deadly anaphylaxis.

Anyone who thinks they have this product is being urged not to consume them and return them to where they bought them.

The company’s websites where the products were being sold, www.chocolatebananaslimming.com and www.suedeapple.co.uk, are no longer operational.

Nicola Schofield, Trading Standards team manager at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “Because of the presence of Crustacea in these pills, which is not declared on the label, it is really important that anyone who still has them does not consume them.

“Instead they should return them to where they brought them at the earliest opportunity.

“Trading Standards officers are continuing to monitor selling sites and will take steps to get both products removed from sale, if and when they appear.”

To report a consumer issue contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.

Councillor John Handley, Vice-Chairman of Communities and Place Committee at Nottinghamshire County Council, added: “We hope this conviction sends out a clear message about the potential dangers of incorrect labelling and the responsibility that businesses must have in ensuring the way they describe their products is accurate.

“Products like these prey on the insecurities of people who are desperate to lose weight by making all kinds of unsubstantiated claims and it is only right that the people behind the claims are called out and punished for the deliberately misleading people. I commend the Trading Standards team for their persistence in securing this prosecution.”

To report a consumer issue contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.