FTC: Lights Out for Falsely Advertised UV Disinfectant Devices
“shUVee” and “Nano-UV” Were Marketed Through Online Retailers Like Amazon and Catalogs Like SkyMall
Two marketers of ultraviolet light “disinfectant” devices have agreed to stop making claims that their devices can wipe out foot fungus and dangerous bacteria like MRSA, E. coli, and Salmonella in order to settle Federal Trade Commission charges alleging they engaged in false and unsubstantiated advertising.
The settlements impose judgments of $656,423 and $629,359, against Angel Sales, Inc. and its principals and Zadro Health Solutions, Inc., respectively. Based on their ability to pay, the Angel Sales judgment is suspended and the Zadro Health Solutions’ judgment is partially suspended upon payment of $222,029 for consumer refunds. In each case, the full judgment will become due immediately if defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.
“The defendants said their devices’ UV rays would kill dangerous microorganisms, but they didn’t have scientific evidence to back that up,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “I’m pleased that the FTC’s action has put an end to these deceptive claims.”
The FTC alleged that Angel Sales, Inc. and its owners Robert and Laura Engel made false and baseless advertising claims about their shUVee devices. The Angel Sales defendants marketed their ultraviolet devices directly on their shuvee.com website and through national retailers, including on skymall.com, amazon.com, and walgreens.com websites and the SkyMall in-flight catalog.
In their ads, the Angel Sales defendants claimed that the shUVee devices could “keep your shoes odor-free and bacteria-free without the spray can,” and that, “the UV light reaches all the way into shoes to the toes where the bacteria live.” They claimed shUVee “kills over 95% of germs, bacteria, even the fungus responsible for the highly contagious MRSA bacteria – in less than one hour.” Prices for the shUVee devices ranged from $99.99 to $139.99, according to the complaint.
In a separate action, the FTC alleged that Zadro Health Solutions, Inc. and its owners Zlatko and Rebecca Zadro made similar false and baseless advertising claims about their Nano-UV devices. The Zadro Health Solutions defendants marketed their ultraviolet Nano-UV devices directly on their own zadrohs.com website and through national retailer websites, including skymall.com, amazon.com, drugstore.com, target.com, brookstone.com, and wayfair.com, and in catalogs such as SkyMall, Magellan’s, Hammacher Schlemmer, and Frontgate.
In their ads, the Zadro Health Solutions defendants claimed that their devices “safely kill 99.99% of targeted bacteria – E. Coli, Salmonella and the H1N1 (swine flu) virus in 10 seconds” and that their “specifically designed Disinfecting Wands have been proven to eliminate 99.99% of targeted germs and viruses in as little as 10 seconds.” Zadro Health Solutions’ water and surface disinfectant devices allegedly were touted as “producing sufficient energy to damage and alter DNA of all kinds of microorganisms.”
On their Nano-UV packaging, the Zadro defendants allegedly claimed Nano-UV wands were proven effective for killing 99% of germs on numerous surfaces, including in food preparation areas, nurseries, footwear, shower floors, public rest rooms, and clinics. Prices for the Nano-UV devices ranged from $59.99, to $159.99, according to the complaint.
Under the settlement orders announced today against Angel Sales and its principals and Zadro Health Solutions and its principals, the defendants are prohibited from making false or unsubstantiated claims for any device regarding its disinfectant efficacy.
They also are prohibited from making any claims about the health benefits, performance, or efficacy of any product or service unless the claims are truthful and non-misleading, and, at the time they make the claim, the defendants possess and rely upon competent and reliable scientific evidence. Finally, the orders prohibit the defendants from misrepresenting that the benefits of any product or service are scientifically proven, and from misrepresenting any scientific test, study, or research.
The Commission vote to approve each complaint and proposed stipulated order was 5-0. The complaint and final order against the Angel Sales defendants were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. The complaint and proposed final order against the Zadro defendants were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Southern Division.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. Stipulated final orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
The FTC is a member of the National Prevention Council, which provides coordination and leadership at the federal level regarding prevention, wellness, and health promotion practices. This case advances the National Prevention Strategy’s goal of increasing the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life. These cases are part of the FTC’s ongoing efforts to protect consumers from misleading advertising.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.