Neurobrands LLC, the maker of Neuro drinks, has agreed to settle a civil complaint alleging the company engaged in false advertising and violated federal food safety laws and regulations. The complaint was filed by the city of Santa Monica following a joint investigation by the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Neurobrands markets a range of beverages, each formulated with a specific functional attribute, including Neuro Sleep, a relaxation drink, and Neuro Sonic, an energy drink. Prosecutors alleged the company has not provided adequate scientific evidence to back up advertising claims like “strengthen your focus and creativity” and “helps normalize sleep patterns.”
Although Neurobrands, which is headquartered in Santa Monica, did not admit liability, it agreed to a permanent court injunction that requires it to change its marketing practices and update wording on its labels. The company will also pay $500,000 in penalties and restitution as part of the settlement.
In a company statement emailed to BevNET, Neurobrands founder Diana Jenkins wrote that “she stood proudly by our products from the start — and still [does].” Calling grocery stores “a litigation hotbed” in recent years, Jenkins said that Neurobrands and the Santa Monica City Attorney and Los Angeles County District Attorney Offices “disagreed about how labeling claims should be interpreted.”
“This is a labeling dispute,” she wrote. “It has now been resolved.”
Jenkins said that Neurobrands “spent almost three years sharing detailed research findings about our products with city lawyers — everything from clinical trials conducted on Neuro Drinks to peer-reviewed scientific studies qualifying the efficacy of our ingredients.”
Adam Radinsky, Santa Monica’s Chief Deputy City Attorney for Consumer Protection, indicated that the company’s research was not enough to support its marketing claims.
“Words matter,” Radinsky said in a news release issued by the city of Santa Monica. “Especially as more and more people become concerned about what they eat and drink, a product’s health claims need to be fair and accurate. If something is claimed to have health benefits, the manufacturer needs to back that up with reliable scientific evidence.”
According to the news release, Neurobrands will be bound by a permanent court injunction that requires it to:
- Stop using many of the ad claims on its packaging until they are supported by new scientific evidence;
- Maintain “competent and reliable scientific evidence” to support all future health-related claims;
- Conduct additional scientific studies of its drinks to support future claims;
- Change the marketing and branding of Neuro Bliss, Neuro Daily, and Neuro Sonic to clarify that they are conventional beverages, not “dietary supplements”;
- Change the marketing and branding of Neuro Sleep to treat it as a true dietary supplement, not a beverage; and
- Assure that the caffeine level in Neuro Sonic conforms with FDA food safety requirements.
Jenkins said that Neurobrands “ultimately decided to settle the case rather than engage in costly, protracted litigation.” However, the company “did not and still [does] not believe the allegations leveled against us are true.”
“Indeed, both parties have stated publicly the decision to settle the case should in no way be construed as an admission of wrongdoing by Neuro Brands,” she wrote. “While there was disagreement over the complex details of the science, I believe everyone agrees that maintaining the trust and confidence of consumers in California and beyond is paramount.”