CSPI's litigation department sent a letter to Smart Balance, Inc. about the unauthorized and illegal claims on its Smart Balance Blended Butter Sticks, whose labels claim in large print to "help block cholesterol."
By marketing the sticks as preventing or treating disease—in this case, hypercholesterolemia—under federal law the products should be considered unapproved new drugs. While there is an FDA-approved health claim for some foods that do have plant sterol esters, Smart Balance's Blended Butter Sticks do not contain enough of those sterols or certain beneficial nutrients, and have too much unhealthful saturated fat, to qualify.
These misleading claims are in violation of state consumer protection laws. CSPI has notified Smart Balance, Inc. that unless the company stops advertising unsubstantiated health benefits in connection with Smart Balance Blended Butter Sticks, CSPI will pursue class action litigation.
After discussions with CSPI, Smart Balance committed to removing plant sterol ester claims from all the products identified in CSPI's original demand letter. 5/14