Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer Wednesday announced that his office reached a $1.75 million settlement with Rainbow Light Nutritional Systems, LLC and affiliated companies that requires them to reduce the amount of lead in prenatal vitamins they manufacture.
"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,'' Feuer said. "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.''
All the companies involved in the settlement are owned by The Clorox Company. The settlement includes $1.5 million in consumer restitution for people who purchased the vitamins within the last four years and $250,000 in civil penalties and costs.
According to the City Attorney's Office, the case began after officials noted Rainbow Light had advertised its vitamins as "free of heavy metals'' and claimed to have been made "with the lowest detectable lead level'' on the market. After the City Attorney's Office ordered a third-party lab test of Rainbow Light prenatal vitamins, results showed that the vitamins contained detectable levels of lead.
The company cooperated and removed its allegedly misleading advertising when Feuer's office brought the results to Rainbow Light's attention, officials said.
"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,'' the company said in a statement Wednesday. "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 https://www.rainbowlight.com/faqs/.''
Feuer called the settlement "groundbreaking'' in that it requires Rainbow Light to agree to a rigorous testing protocol that will further reduce the level of lead in its prenatal vitamins well beneath existing state and federal standards. Rainbow Light must test its prenatal vitamins every six months to determine if the vitamins contain lead in amounts greater than 0.2 micrograms per day.
If that happens, Rainbow Light must give prompt, reasonable notice to the City Attorney's Office, begin an investigation, report back within 45 days. If it is reported that the prenatal vitamins exceed 0.2 micrograms per day for lead, Rainbow Light agrees to produce and test newly manufactured products that do not contain lead in excess of 0.2 micrograms per day within 120 days.
For information regarding restitution, customers can call the City Attorney's Consumer Protection Unit at 213-978-8070.