Remember emu oil? Well, it’s back and it’s bringing its over-hyped promises along for the ride.
This morning the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, made public its official warning letter to emu oil hawker Penelope Collins and her business, Montana Emu Ranch Company. The letter is lengthy and covers a number of products that are marketed in such a way as to constitute what the agency refers to as “serious violations” of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
The company’s VitalStats powder product was listed in the letter for alleged claims made on its packaging, the product’s web page, in customer “testimonials” and in a marketing brochure. Those claims covered medical conditions like:
- Heart disease
- Macular degeneration
The company’s pro’biotic supplement was also called out for claims and testimonials made through various marketing channels. Some of its promised health benefits were for conditions including:
- Digestive disorders
- Pelvic inflammation
Certified Grade A & 100% Pure Montana Emu Oil Products
And, of course, Collins’ emu oil products also caught the eye of investigators. Some of the claims reportedly attached to the Certified Grade A Emu Oil covered conditions like:
- High cholesterol
- Post-operative cataract healing
- Skin conditions including psoriasis, acne, eczema and rosacea
The 100% Pure Montana Emu Oil was touted for:
- Brain health
- Back pain
- Premenstrual syndrome
- Various skin conditions
- “Enlarged” liver
Other Montana Emu Ranch Company products were also singled out. Those include the company’s:
- Ωmega Complex
- EMUGENCY AID SPRAY
- Deep Muscle Rub
- Hot Spice & Ice
The troublesome claims, says the agency, make the products “unapproved new drugs” because they are marketed for treatment or prevention of disease. But even if they weren’t, the products would still be “misbranded” because they’re promoted for conditions that an average person cannot accurately diagnose or effectively treat at home.
The FDA’s warning letter to Penelope Collins and Montana Emu Ranch Company is long but not, according to the agency, intended to be an exhaustive list of all possible violations. The company was given the standard 15 working days to address the FDA’s allegations of bogus claims and it appears to have done so–at least as far as I can tell. The company’s website, for example, has been reworked and the offending wording removed.
A Bit Of Information On Emu Oil
Emu oil is an interesting remedy in alternative medicine. It is exactly what it sounds like–fat taken from emus and melted, filtered and either packaged for sale or sent for use in soaps, cosmetic, muscle rubs and a variety of other products.
The science behind emu is also interesting. Despite its popularity emu oil has not seen exhaustive testing for many of the conditions for which it is marketed. I can find, for example, only 1 study looking at emu oil for cancer.
Currently, emu oil’s greatest potential may lie in its ability to soothe skin, although a 2016 study found that emu oil actually delayed burn healing. Emu oil also appears to work as a safe and effective carrier for topically applied arthritis remedies.