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FDA Crackdown on CBD in Animal Products

Product review engagement leads to a warning letter

FDA Crackdown on CBD in Animal Products

FDA crackdown on CBD in animal products. This month, we saw the fourth warning letter that mentions CBD in animal products. 

This is the 20th CBD-related FDA warning letter this year, up dramatically from only seven in all of 2021. This is an enforcement trend to watch!

These warning letters involve companies marketing CBD products for farm animals and humans, but there are also some great learning opportunities for the broader dietary supplement market.

The most interesting point is a company was cited for engaging with product reviews on their website. The product reviews look like third-party-generated content, such as from TrustPilot, of which the authorities have been “hands-off.” The company then comments on the product review, which contains disease claims, and this is similar to how a company may comment on social media.

If the company had not engaged in commenting on the review, I doubt this would have been cited in this letter. This is an essential lesson for content writers and social media managers: fight the urge to engage when customers write product reviews with disease claims. The more attention is paid to them, the higher their chance of being scrutinized.

From the warning letter “Customer review: “I wanted to ask if these pellets would help my goat, has a bad front leg, he holds it up a lot, the vet says it arthritis …Do you have anything that would ease the pain…”
   o Response from ….Hope Botanicals: “Yes, I think the pellets would be beneficial for your goat. We have lots of goat customers” Read the letter here

The critical point here is that true third-party product reviews seem to be safer from scrutiny, but they cross the line into a marketing claim when a company comments on them. This is considered substantiation of the customer statement, and the engagement changes into “an extension of the label.”. This lesson can be applied to social media engagement as well. “All Marketing is Labeling” video

These letters are also the “greatest hits” of what not to.

· Old social media posts

· Claims made in blogs, videos, hashtags

· Testimonials are claims

The FDA is concerned about CBD getting into the food supply.

From Warning Letters: “The Agency is particularly concerned that you market one of your CBD products for food-producing animals”.

Hashtags are also mentioned.

From Haniel warning letter: “On a May 12, 2019 post on Instagram states, “What can # CBD do for #animals and # anxiety # inflammation # arthritis # pain # seizures  # cancer # cbdoil

Blogs are also mentioned in this letter. Remember, old blog posts are now commonly mentioned in warning letters. Here is my “Best Practices for Reducing Risk in Blogs” post

From warning letter: On your …. November 5, 2019 blog posting titled “Is CBD Safe for Dogs with Anxiety”: • “One of the most popular uses of CBD is to treat anxiety.

In my opinion, the claims cited in this video are not considered high risk. This is a good reminder that even mid-level risk claims can attract a warning letter (see below).

From Plantacea, LLC dba Kahm warning letter: “In a Product Display training video dated December 7, 2020 at, during the discussion of your “CBD Hemp Pellets” (from the 4:52 to 4:55 mark) the presenter states: “It’s also amazing for the anti-inflammatory effects that CBD has.”

Here is an example of a high-risk claim that likely “tipped the scale” into the warning letter category. Note these social media post is four years old!

From Plantacea, LLC dba Kahmwarning letter: On your Instagram social media website ….from posts on July 24, 2018: • “An article published in the February 2013 issue of The British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology states, ‘CBD. . . inhibits cancer cell migration, adhesion, and invasion.’”

Disclaimer: The educational information provided here is for informational purposes only. Contact an attorney for specific legal advice. Rule #1 in compliance is to ensure marketing is truthful and not misleading.

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