California state regulators have been asked to investigate ‘deceptive’ claims made by Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop lifestyle company that there are health benefits to dozens of products promoted on its website, including the assertion that jade vagina eggs can improve sexual energy, restore hormonal balance and prevent uterine prolapse.
On Tuesday, the nonprofit Truth in Advertising called on district attorneys’ offices in Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, which are members of the California Food Drug and Medical Device Task Force, to investigate how the Los Angeles-based Goop promotes these products and to take appropriate action.
In all, Truth in Advertising said it had catalogued more than 50 instances of Paltrow’s startup boasting that its products — along with outside products it promotes on its site — can treat, cure, prevent, alleviate, or reduce the risk of ailments such as infertility, depression, psoriasis, anxiety, and even cancer.
In addition to the vagina eggs, these products include crystal harmonics for infertility, rose flower essence tincture for depression, black rose bar for psoriasis, wearable stickers for anxiety, and vitamin D3 for cancer.
“The problem is that the company does not possess the competent and reliable scientific evidence required by law to make such claims,” the Connecticut-based advocacy group wrote in a blog post.
Goop has long faced criticism for not being able to back up its claims, including from Dr. Jennifer Gunter, a San Francisco gynecologist and medical blogger, who has consistently dissected and lambasted a number of Goop-endorsed products, including the jade vagina eggs.
With regard to the eggs, Paltrow was quizzed by Jimmy Kimmel about them on his show. At first the actress laughingly said, “I don’t know” when he asked about their purported health benefits. Then she said they “act as a weight,” and presumably therefore work to tone the pelvic floor muscles.
“We sell tons of them,” she said. “Women have had incredible results.”
Last month, Guntner was back in the news again when both Paltrow and her Goop team attempted to defend themselves against ongoing social media ridicule and criticism with a post “Uncensored: A Word from Our Doctors.” That post included open letters from two doctors, one of which amounted to a professional attack on Guntner
Truth in Advertising said Goop’s defense boiled down to arguing that “maybe it’s not smart to trust evidence-based science.” The group also noted that not long after the post and doctors’ letters went online, one of the doctors, Dr. Aviva Romm, told the health and medicine website STAT that she didn’t see herself as one of Goop’s doctors at all.
“In fact,” the website reported, “(Romm) said she’s advised Goop that if it wants to be more than a ‘caricature of everything alternative health for women,’ the editors need to do an audit of all their content, in consultation with physicians.”
Goop began in 2008 as a “homespun weekly newsletter,” sharing Paltrow’s whimsical thoughts on everything from travel and cooking to health, fitness, and the psyche.
Goop has since grown into a wellness empire that markets a plethora of alternative health and other specialty items aimed at a variety of physical and mental health issues, Truth in Advertising said. After reportedly raising $15-$20 million in venture capital in 2016, Goop entered the $37 billion supplement industry in March when it launched Goop Wellness, a line of supplements that sold more than $100,000 worth of product the day it debuted, Fast Company reported.
The group said that it told Goop about what it saw as its problematic health claims on Aug. 11. The group warned Goop that it would alert regulators by Aug. 18 if it didn’t fix the language in its web content.
The group said it also provided a list of webpages with “unsubstantiated” claims.
“Despite being handed this information, Goop to date has only made limited changes to its marketing,” Truth in Advertising wrote Tuesday.
A Goop spokesperson told BuzzFeed News in a statement: “Goop is dedicated to introducing unique products and offerings and encouraging constructive conversation surrounding new ideas. We are receptive to feedback and consistently seek to improve the quality of the products and information referenced on our site.”
The spokesperson said Goop tried to respond promptly and “in good faith” to the group’s outreach,. “Unfortunately, they provided limited information and made threats under arbitrary deadlines which were not reasonable under the circumstances,” the spokesperson said.
For the most part, Goop stands by its products and claims, saying that Truth in Advertising’s allegations are “unsubstantiated and unfounded.” Still, the company will continue to evaluate its products and content and “make those improvements that we believe are reasonable and necessary in the interests of our community of users.”
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