Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle and wellness site Goop has promised to stop making unscientific claims about the benefits of sticking stone eggs in one's vagina.
Bloomberg News reports that the company agreed to pay $145,000 yesterday to settle allegations that it made unsupported claims about three of the products it sells, including a tincture and two vaginal eggs.
The suit claims that Goop marketed its now-infamous Jade Egg and Rose Quartz Egg as being able to "balance hormones, regulate menstrual cycles, prevent uterine prolapse, and increase bladder control." The eggs sell for $66 and $55, respectively. The Jade Eggs sold out after a January 2017 post that recommended using the eggs for better sex. The site still says that the Jade Egg is "used by women to increase sexual energy and pleasure."
Doctors warned that the eggs weren't backed by science and could be a waste of money, and could also be harmful, potentially leading to bacterial vaginosis or even life-threatening toxic shock syndrome if left in the vagina for hours.
The complaint also took aim at Goop's marketing of the Inner Judge Flower Essence Blend, which it said could could help prevent depression when taken orally or added to bathwater. Specifically, the site says the $22 tincture can "help prevent 'shame spirals' downward toward depressive states."
The settlement was part of a consumer protection lawsuit filed by ten state prosecutors in California on Friday, and the $145,000 civil penalty is based on sales of the products in California, where Goop is headquartered.
California prosecutors were reportedly spurred on by a complaint filed against Goop last summer by the watchdog group Truth in Advertising, which alleged that the site was making unsubstantiated health and disease-treatment claims to market products and called on state regulators to investigate.
As part of the deal, Goop is prohibited from "making any claims regarding the efficacy or effects of any of its products without possessing competent and reliable scientific evidence that substantiates the claims" and "manufacturing or selling any misbranded, unapproved, or falsely advertised medical devices," per a statement from the Santa Clara county district attorney's office. The company is also offering refunds to anyone who purchased the products between January 12, 2017 and August 31, 2017.
“The health and money of Santa Clara County residents should never be put at risk by misleading advertising,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement. “We will vigilantly protect consumers against companies that promise health benefits without the support of good science…or any science.”
Goop chief financial officer Erica Moore said in a statement provided to Tonic that the company disagrees with the prosecutors' claims but settled the suit to resolve it "quickly and amicably." "Goop provides a forum for practitioners to present their views and experiences with various products like the jade egg. The law, though, sometimes views statements like this as advertising claims, which are subject to various legal requirements," Moore said. "The Task Force assisted us in applying those laws to the content we published, and we appreciate their guidance in this matter as we move from a pioneer in this space to an established wellness authority." Moore added that the company "prides itself on being a leader in the health and wellness industry and will continue its efforts to provide helpful and accurate information about a variety of products."
News of the California settlement isn't the first time that Goop made headlines this summer for promoting ideas not backed by science. According to a much-discussed feature story in the New York Times, Goop editors had to replace stories for its magazine venture with Condé Nast at the last minute because they couldn't get past Condé's fact-checking department. Goop has ended the magazine partnership and hired its own fact-checker this month, which Paltrow described to the Times as a "necessary growing pain."
That person will likely have their work cut out for them, as Moore also announced in the statement that Goop is launching a "wellness portal" that will be run by "experienced nutritional science researchers, product safety experts, and traditional Chinese medicine doctors."
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