The owner of a Retford-based diet pill company has been fined after she failed to disclose her products contained a potentially deadly allergen.
Nicola Brownson-Smith, 44, director of Suede Apple Ltd, appeared at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court following an investigation by Nottinghamshire County Council.
The council’s trading standards team test-purchased three products from the company following a tip-off and found a series of unsubstantiated claims about the weight-loss pills had been made.
The charges relate to two products – Fat Blocker and Inner Cleanse.
The packaging on the Fat Blocker product failed to inform consumers that it contained the shellfish allergen crustacea, which could put consumers at risk of potentially deadly allergic reaction, anaphylaxis.
Anaphylaxis can cause an itchy rash, throat or tongue swelling, shortness of breath, vomiting, lightheadedness, and low blood pressure and could prove fatal.
The Food Standards Agency asked the company to issue an urgent product recall in relation to the pills.
The Fat Blocker pills were also found to have made unauthorised health claims on the packaging as well as the Inner Cleanse product.
Labelling on the Fat Blocker pills claimed that it ‘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 company’s websites where the products were being sold – www.chocolatebananaslimming.com and www.suedeapple.co.uk – are no longer operational.
Brownson-Smith admitted four charges relating to false advertising on its packaging and website.
Additionally, she was also found guilty of placing an unsafe product on the market without declaring some of the pills contained a potentially deadly allergen.
The Retford woman was fined £660 and ordered to pay £500 costs over the two products.
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.”
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.”
Anyone who thinks they have this product is being urged not to consume them and return them to where they bought them.
To report a consumer issue contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.
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