Tahitian Noni Claims Curbed

September 12, 2002

On August 26, 1998, the Attorneys General of Arizona, California, New Jersey, and Texas announced a multi-state settlement with Morinda, Inc., a multilevel company headquartered in Linden, Utah. The states had charged that Morinda had made unsubstantiated claims in consumer testimonials and other promotional material that its “Tahitian Noni” juice could treat, cure or prevent numerous diseases, including diabetes, depression, hemorrhoids and arthritis. Such claims rendered the beverage an unapproved new drug under state and federal food and drug laws and should not have been sold until it received approval. Under the terms of the agreement, Morinda must:

  • No longer make drug claims, or claims that the product can cure, treat, or prevent any disease until “Tahitian Noni” is approved and cleared for those uses by the U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration.
  • Not make any other claims, whether health claims or others, regarding the benefits of “Tahitian Noni” unless such claims are true and the company can substantiate the claim by reliable scientific evidence.
  • Not use testimonials which imply that the advertised claimed results are the typical or ordinary experience of consumers in actual conditions of use, unless Morinda possesses and relies upon adequate substantiation that the results are typical or ordinary.

In addition, Morinda must refund to any consumer who requests a refund in writing, the full purchase price paid for the product. The agreement also calls for Morinda to pay $100,000 for investigative costs.

Regulatory Action in Finland

Press Release: November 23/30, 1998
Temporary ban on sales of NONI fruit juice from Tahiti

In its decision (E 27/216/98) of November 26, 1998, the National Food Administration has banned the importation, exportation, trade stocking, offering and all other supplying, of the fruit juice marketed under the name of NONI until such time as the brochure which must be supplied in conjunction with sales, and other information, has been corrected in accordance with the Food Act and the regulations legislated on the basis of this Act.

NONI fruit juice is sold throughout Finland by means of network marketing, and in conjunction with sales of the product claims associated with health, and pharmaceutical information on the foodstuff, are systematically presented which are prohibited under section 6 of the Food Act. In the material in the brochure connected with sales, reference is made to the effects of the product in regard to the prevention of illnesses, their treatment and cure by, among things, listing the complaints that NONI has been shown to relieve. Among the complaints listed are HIV, cancer, diabetes, rheumatism, blood pressure, cholesterol, psoriasis, allergies, heart rhythm abnormality, chronic inflammation, and aching joints. To prevent any possible side-effects of NONI fruit juice, the brochure even urges people to reduce the dosage of prescription medicines. The information given in the brochure in conjunction with marketing, and other information, is also to be considered misleading to the consumer, since an impression is given of the nature of the product and its properties leading one to believe that the product is a medicine, not a food.

In addition to the brochure material contravening the Food Act regulations, the product contains a food ingredient from a plant (Morinda citrifolia) the utilization of which in the EU has thus far been extremely slight. Thus, it is possible that the ingredient is a novel food complying with the Novel Food Regulation (258/1997) which should have been brought on to the markets in a way compliant with stipulated procedures.

After careful deliberation, the National Food Administration has decided that protecting the consumers’ health and economy from misleading marketing calls for immediate steps to be taken in regard to banning the sale, marketing and importation of this product.

For the lifting of the temporary ban the National Food Administration orders the importers, vendors and marketers responsible for the product to rectify the brochures and other information used for marketing and selling so that these no longer portray health effects contrary to the Food Act regulations according to which the product would have effects preventing, treating or curing illnesses. For supervising adherence to the regulations, information is required to be supplied to the National Food Administration on entrepreneurs and persons acting as network vendors, marketers and importers for the product. The National Food Administration also directs the parties responsible to determine whether the product is a novel foodstuff compliant with the Novel Foodstuff Regulation.

Further information:

  • Chief Inspector Jorma Pitkänen, National Food Administration, tel. 358-(0)9 7726 7620
  • Barrister Hanna Brotherus, National Food Administration, tel. 358-(0)9 7726 7603
  • Manager Kalevi Salminen, National Food Administration, tel. 358-(0)9 7726 7600
For Aditional Information

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This page was revised on September 12, 2002.