Wellness and lifestyle company, Goop, (y’know, brainchild of Gwyneth Paltrow), has agreed to pay out $145,000 ($192,000 CAD) over unverified claims made about its vaginal egg products, and a herbal essence blend.
According to their original descriptions, the Jade and Rose Quartz eggs (each retailing at $$66 US) sold via the Goop website could balance hormones, prevent uterine prolapse, increase bladder control, and regulate menstrual cycles. Lofty claims, to say the least. It also sold the Inner Judge Flower Essence Blend ($22 US), claiming it could help prevent depression.
The Orange County District Attorney’s office said in a statement the claims suggested with sale of these items “were not supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence.” Tony Rackauckas of the DA’s office added, “It’s important to hold companies accountable for unsubstantiated claims, especially when the claims have the potential to affect women’s health.”
As well as agreeing to pay out to settle the claims, Goop agreed to honour refund requests for any sales of the products made from January to August of last year, remove the health claims from their website, and make no further claims that are not backed up by reliable, substantiated scientific evidence.
Its Chief Financial Officer, Erica Moore, spoke to Refinery29, stating, “While Goop believes there is an honest disagreement about these claims, the company wanted to settle this matter quickly and amicably… Goop provides a forum for practitioners to present their views and experiences with various products like the jade egg. The law, though, sometimes views statements like this as advertising claims, which are subject to various legal requirements.” Which of course it should do, to ensure companies which are profiting from the sale of products, based on said shared experiences, are doing so responsibly.
Goop has faced quite the backlash over the years, from the general eyebrow-raising ridiculousness of some of its recommendations (vaginal steam for $66, anyone?) to its potentially dangerous health claims. Dr Jen Gunter, an MD and OB/GYN, has written several times on not only the lack of efficacy behind some Goop claims, but the outright danger she believes some pose to women’s health. In an open letter to Paltrow, Gunter called out the potential harm of jade eggs in particular, which, being porous, may harbour bacteria, and be pretty difficult to disinfect.
The dubious claims have certainly racked up, from the ‘vibrational stickers’ that cost over $100, apparently used on NASA space suits (they weren’t), to the endorsement of bee-sting therapy (from which a woman died three years ago). Paltrow herself even appeared on a talk show, laughing off Goop’s claims, saying she didn’t know “what the f*** we talk about.”
This is the second time Goop has made recent headlines for controversies. The first was when the reason behind Goop parting ways with publisher Condé Nast became clear – Paltrow didn’t want them to fact-check Goop’s claims. Magazine publishing has fairly tight standards for printed copy, and so the partnership ended after just two issues. Paltrow has since hired an in-house fact-checker for the Goop site (it’s probably cheaper than settling such large claims).
But none of this seemed to bother Paltrow, who claimed each controversy courted by the brand only served to up their traffic, saying somewhat obnoxiously to the New York Times, “I can monetize those eyeballs.” It seems a duty of care to their customers is pretty far down their list of priorities.