The maker of a natural extract once touted by TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz settled with federal trade regulators Monday over its claims the product causes substantial weight loss.
Applied Food Sciences, which manufactures green coffee extract, will pay the government $3.5 million and must refrain from making further weight loss claims about its products without scientific proof.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) blasted the company for using a sham study to promote the substance.
"Applied Food Sciences knew or should have known that this botched study didn't prove anything," said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a statement.
"In publicizing the results, it helped fuel the green coffee phenomenon," she said.
The settlement is the latest strike from Washington against products highlighted on Oz's show for their potential to cause "miracle" weight loss and the latest in a string of similar actions by the FTC.
Oz faced criticism from lawmakers for his weight-loss endorsements during a congressional hearing in June.
"I don’t get why you need to say this stuff because you know it’s not true," said Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillRepublicans may regret restricting reproductive rights Sunday shows preview: States deal with fallout of Ida; Texas abortion law takes effect Giuliani to stump for Greitens in Missouri MORE (D-Mo.).
Oz, a best-selling author and cardiac surgeon, acknowledged to lawmakers that he had made the FTC’s job “more difficult” but defended his motives.
“My job is to be a cheerleader for the audience, when they don’t think they have hope,” he said.
“I have things I think work for people. I want them to try them so that they feel better, so that they can do the things we talk about every day on the show [like diet and exercise]."