Rainbow Light Sued for False Advertising, Lead Content

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City Attorney Mike Feuer displaying Rainbow Lite prenatal vitamins. Photo courtesy of the City Attorney's office.

Los Angeles, CA—City Attorney Mike Feuer’s office reached a $1.75 million agreement with Rainbow Light that will set a testing standard for lead in prenatal products, according to a press release.

After the office tested Rainbow Light’s products, they found that although Rainbow Light advertised its vitamins as “free of heavy metals,” the vitamins contained detectable levels of lead. Rainbow Light removed the advertising, and then, following further discussion with Feuer’s office, agreed to a testing protocol that will reduce the level of lead in its prenatal vitamins to well below existing state and federal standards.

The press release notes that, under Proposition 65, California businesses are required to issue warnings if their products contain more than .5 micrograms of lead per day—a standard based on data that is more than 40 years old, and which doesn’t account for newer evidence showing that even that level is too high. State regulators have considered lowering the standard to .2 micrograms per day.

Independent testing found that Rainbow Light prenatal vitamins initially tested above .2 micrograms per daily serving. The City Attorney’s settlement with Rainbow Light will require the company to test its vitamins every six months, and if the test results exceed .2 micrograms per day for lead, Rainbow Light must notify the City Attorney’s Office, begin an investigation, produce and test a new lot that does not exceed that level of lead, and notify the Office regarding progress on the investigation.

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The settlement includes $1.5 million in restitution to California consumers who have purchased Rainbow Light prenatal vitamins in the past four years.

In the release, Feuer said: “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. 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.”

Rainbow Light released a statement saying: “Rainbow Light wants women to understand that our prenatal and postnatal vitamins are safe and have less lead than you could find in a typical serving of spinach[1]. Because our vitamins include plant- and mineral-based ingredients, they contain trace elements of lead and other heavy metals. However, these naturally-occurring trace amounts are below California’s Proposition 65 standards, which is one of the strictest regulations in the U.S. governing the safety of water, food and consumer products. We strive to make the highest-quality vitamins possible and have taken steps to further reduce these already trace levels. We are pleased to have resolved legal claims raised by the Los Angeles City Attorney related to certain language that was previously on our website. Anyone who has any questions about our products can find more detailed information at www.rainbowlight.com/faqs/.

 

[1] Based on 2014 US FDA Total Diet Study (revised in 2017) mean concentration of lead in fresh/frozen spinach, assuming a standard serving of 100 g. (n=32).

(Note: This article has been updated with the full statement from Rainbow Light.)

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