“Down at the store, the honey was sitting a little too close to the health benefits brochure.”
UPDATE: September 4, 2009. See the special offer on organic herbs, spices, teas, oils and other whole foods here at the Journal from Wilderness Family Naturals.
The update for this story is still yet pending. It will include some info from Ken’s perspective as well as a copy of the consent decree. Stand by for the Update later tonight.
Annette and Ken Fischer, and their family, started a business up near Silver Bay, Minnesota called Wilderness Family Naturals in 2000 to supply healthy nutrient-dense products like coconut oil, dried berries, and spices (and later, dozens of other products) over the Internet. Just five years into it, their problems began– with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
After years of being silenced from talking about all this by strong recommendations from their attorney, Annette and I were able to have a conversation this week, to answer some questions I had from David Gumpert’s story linked below. I was impressed of their attitude and fortitude, and that their business is doing well yet needs more customers to pay down the debt incurred, and how positively passionate she is to continue her real food ministry.
Annette told me that FDA deemed that their honey, coconut oil and other products were sitting too close to the health benefits brochures. In internet-speak, that means linked to another site that has health research. So, Annette and Ken and, in effect, their seven children and 30 employees, were all “charged” by FDA with crimes against the federal state. So far it has cost them $100,000 and considerable loss of business– not to mention the stress. Oh yes, there is more to it than that—as they say.
But the more is that it was even worse than having the honey too close to health claim literature. It was their website. They had complied with the FDA one-click policy (to health research info on honey and coconut oil) but violated a new unwritten, two-click policy (no health info directly tied to their website) and that was unknown to them.
To avoid criminal prosecution in a federal court, FDA forced them to sign a consent decree for them to pay all FDA legal expenses as well as their own, including the cost of the FDA entering their own home and business carrying away a truckload of business and customer records and invoices. So in July 2009, just two weeks ago, the first billable inspection resulted in being forced to cancel their contracts with 300 distributors throughout the U.S., severely hurting their business. It’s all just business—of the government/corporate partnership and America’s sometimes twisted system of law and justice. (But to be fair, I will give FDAs rationale later this week)
Annette says they did the very best they could complying with the rules and FDA policies all along, including what is known as the one-click rule– but FDA internal policy changed again– without their knowing– to a two click-rule.
I just had to ask Annette how they came to the conclusion to deal with these snakes and fork over $100K, rather than say to FDA “see ya in court” and wait it out for the filing. They had a fear that if convicted and jailed, it was explained, that they could have lost their minor children to the state. That is perfectly understandable, since this type of thing has happened many times before to others.
Yes, they could have even lost their children, their business and home; after all, the honey was too close to the health literature.
NOTE from Augie:
And yes, they do need to move more product. So, I recommend you help get this story out to the e-channels for whole foodies, homeschoolers, farmers, freedom and Bible believer networks, NOW.
I have only three questions:
With all our friends and good people inside FDA doing so many wonderful things (and there are), why is it they allow this FDA crime unit gets away with such torture to make a point that honey and coconut oil should not be labeled (or directly linked to a site with a true health claim?
And, why do they not go after the real frauds who promise water with an induced reverse-electron orbit to bring the water back to Garden of Eden quality and special chocolate blended with manna falling from heaven?
And, why is it all of those grocery store products carry a myriad of what many say are fraudulent health claims (like milk and cereal) and get away with it?
Well, the story is just beginning to unfold. There is more to come.– Augie
Read this superbly written article by David Gumpert, an award-winning journalist who writes for Business Week at his story “We’re Still in Business,” Says Determined Wilderness Family Naturals, Despite FDA’s Determination to Bleed Firm but be sure to come back and make your comments!
Oh, they are still in business alright, and I will now recommend you peruse their website, as I have, for very fine products at reasonable prices at Wilderness Family Naturals. Order up and I will too. The State of Ohio food groups will, what about your state?