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“Detox Tea” Company Ordered to Pay $15.2 Million for Deceptive Ads

Spill the tea.

kylie jenner with fake health tea

Kylie Jenner, Cardi B, and friends won’t be pushing fake “detox teas” for a while. Teami LLC, the company behind a swath of products hawked by Instagram influencers that claimed to do everything from help you lose weight to fight cancer, has been hit with a $15 million judgment from the Federal Trade Commission over deceptive marketing practices.

“Teami and its owners earned millions making unsubstantiated claims about their products and promoted those claims using paid influencers” the FTC declared in the judgment, which came thanks to a settlement between Teami. The $15.2 million represents the money Teami made on these products and will be suspended if Teami pays a $1 million fine upfront.

Teami made all sorts of dangerous health claims about their product, none of which were backed up by any science or testing. Teami not only claimed that the product would help users lose weight, but would ease migraines, fight cancer, cases of flu, and colds. Oh and clear up your arteries.

Teami is just one of many detox tea companies that sprang up in recent years, and which have been the focus of body positivity advocates like Jameela Jamil for their bogus claims that just drinking their special teas would make customers skinny. In the age of Instagram they’re the perfect product: cheap to make and with a claim that’s easy to sell.

To be clear, these teas don’t work. They only thing they do to make you “skinny” is make you poop because most of their ingredients are laxatives. They’re actually pretty harmful to your body and digestive tract. The fact that so many of these products, like SkinnyTea or Bootea or whatever new names they’re using, were pushed so hard on Instagram by influencers took them from dumb to dangerous.

Teami came under fire in 2018, when it began paying Instagram influencers to promote the product and push their bogus claims about it. The posts from users like Adrienne Bailon who pushed the products to her millions of followers without any disclosure that it was an ad. Even after warnings, their influencers weren’t posting disclaimers that these were ads.

The influencers that worked with Teami, including Cardi B and Kylie Jenner, weren’t penalized financially for their involvement with Teami, but did receive a warning letter. Teami will have to stop making their unsubstantiated claims in their advertising, which will cover Instagram posts.

It’s important to end with noting that Teami is just one of many companies out there shilling these dangerous products based on deceptive claims. No tea can make you magically lose weight and it’s a big victory that one company is being punished for saying so.

(via The Fashion Law, Image: Kylie Jenner on Instagram)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.