Los Angeles – City Attorney Mike Feuer today announced that his office has reached a $1.75-million settlement, including $1.5-million in consumer restitution, with Rainbow Light Nutritional Systems, LLC (“Rainbow Light”) and affiliated companies—all owned by The Clorox Company—that will meaningfully reduce the lead to which pregnant mothers and their fetuses are exposed. (Watch the press conference).
The case began after the City Attorney’s office noted Rainbow Light had advertised its vitamins as “free of heavy metals” and claimed to have been made with materials “with the lowest detectable lead level” on the market. Yet when Feuer’s office had an independent, third-party lab test Rainbow Light prenatal vitamins, test results showed that they were not, in fact, “free of heavy metals,” and that they contained detectable levels of lead. After Feuer’s office brought these results to Rainbow Light’s attention, the company cooperated in resolving this matter and quickly removed its allegedly misleading advertising.
Feuer’s office then pursued Rainbow Light to reduce the lead in Rainbow Light’s prenatal products. The result is a groundbreaking settlement under which Rainbow Light agrees to a rigorous testing protocol that will further reduce the level of lead in its prenatal vitamins well beneath existing state and federal standards.
“Scientists agree there is no safe level of lead for pregnant moms and their developing fetuses. Those moms have the right to expect the safest possible prenatal vitamins,” said Feuer. “This settlement not only stops Rainbow Light’s allegedly false advertising, it commits the company to rigorous testing and reporting that will meaningfully reduce exposure to lead.”
The settlement reflects the current scientific consensus that lead exposures should be reduced as much as possible. Under Proposition 65, California businesses are generally required to issue warnings if their products contain lead in excess of 0.5 micrograms per day. But this standard is based on data that is more than 40 years old, and does not account for compelling current scientific evidence showing that the standard is too high to adequately protect public health. Recently, State regulators have considered lowering the standard for lead by 60% to 0.2 micrograms per day. Independent testing revealed that multiple Rainbow Light prenatal vitamins initially tested above 0.2 micrograms per daily serving.
The City Attorney’s settlement with Rainbow Light will require the company to test its prenatal vitamins every six months to determine if the vitamins contain lead in amounts greater than 0.2 micrograms per day. If test results for any Rainbow Light prenatal vitamin exceed 0.2 micrograms per day for lead, Rainbow Light must take the following steps:
(1) Give prompt reasonable notice to the City Attorney’s Office;
(2) Begin an investigation;
(3) Report back to the City Attorney’s Office within 45 days to give a progress report on the investigation; and,
(4) If the prenatal vitamins exceed 0.2 micrograms per day for lead, Rainbow Light agrees to produce and test a newly manufactured lot of the Rainbow Light product that does not contain lead in excess of 0.2 micrograms per day within 120 days.
In addition to this testing requirement and an injunction prohibiting Rainbow Light from engaging in false advertising, Feuer’s settlement also requires Rainbow Light to pay $250,000 in civil penalties and costs, and additionally, to provide $1.5 million in restitution to California consumers who have purchased Rainbow Light prenatal vitamins in the past four years.
For information regarding restitution, customers can call the City Attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit – 213-978-8070.
Supervising Deputy City Attorney Christina Tusan, Deputy City Attorneys William Pletcher, Rebecca Morse and Stephen Mayer, all of the Consumer and Workplace Protection Unit, handled this matter for the City Attorney’s Office. Read the stipulation.
ABOUT MIKE FEUER
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer has long been one of California's leading lawyers and lawmakers. As LA's chief lawyer and prosecutor since July, 2013, he has brought an innovative, problem-solving focus that combines tough and effective prosecution with initiatives to improve public safety and the quality of life throughout LA. Feuer's office also has been at the forefront of key national issues ranging from gun violence prevention and consumer protection to justice system reform and challenges to recent federal policies that threaten fundamental rights and public safety.