|Products||Himalayan Goji Juice|
Number of employees
Ray Faltinsky and Kevin Fournier were backed by a group of investors that included family, friends and Anson Beard, previously of Morgan Stanley and Dean Witter. BFreeLife International was launched as a direct sales company based on Ray Faltinsky's prior research on that business model.[failed verification]
FreeLife includes operations in Australia, Bermuda, Canada, Hong Kong, Macau, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Trinidad & Tobago, and the United States.
Over several years, the company's spokesperson Earl Mindell made claims of unfounded health benefits from consuming the company's goji juice product called "Himalayan Goji Juice", implicating anti-cancer and anti-aging properties. Specifically in 2007, Mindell's statements were made during a hidden camera investigation by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation whose reporter, Wendy Mesley, questioned the supposed anti-cancer properties of Himalayan Goji Juice. During the same investigation, it was found that Mindell's Ph.D. qualification was in fact invalid, as had been questioned a decade before. Mindell's Ph.D. was supposedly conferred in 1985 by Pacific Western University, an unaccredited distance-learning institution with no campus. Authoritative databases of accredited US institutions exist at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA database) and United States Department of Education (USDE accreditation database); neither lists Pacific Western University as of February 2007. It was proven by subsequent studies that Mindell's claims were unfounded and based only on preliminary laboratory research on cancer cell inhibition, a finding that was never confirmed in other laboratory or human studies. As a result, FreeLife severed its relationship with Mindell in 2008, but was further associated with him as a codefendant in a 2009 legal case (below).
In 2008, a FreeLife-funded study conducted on its own employees found that the use of their goji products increased subjective feelings of well-being. Questions on these findings were later raised due to poor study design and potential conflict of interest between FreeLife, the employed subjects used and the investigators who did the study.
Products and marketing
At first, FreeLife’s product line consisted of nutritional supplements, shampoo and personal care products. In 2003, FreeLife changed its product line to focus on a juice made from goji (Lycium barbarum) and sold under the product name Himalayan Goji Juice, and a newer product named GoChi. The company and its Goji juice were featured in the media frequently around 2007 and 2008 when the link between anticancer and goji berries were questioned.
FreeLife products are sold using a multi-level marketing to customers by independent salespeople who are paid commissions on their sales and the sales of their downline.
Burge et al vs FreeLife
On May 29, 2009, a class action lawsuit was filed against FreeLife International, Inc. in the United States District Court of Arizona. This lawsuit alleged false claims, misrepresentations, false and deceptive advertising and other issues regarding FreeLife’s Himalayan Goji Juice, GoChi, and TaiSlim products. This lawsuit sought remedies for consumers who have purchased these products in recent years.
A settlement agreement was reached on April 28, 2010, where FreeLife will take steps to ensure that its goji products are not marketed as "unheated" or "raw", and made a contribution to an educational organization.
- Thesis on direct sales business model Archived 2010-12-14 at the Wayback Machine, Ray Faltinsky, 1992
- Asia Pulse. (October 11, 2004) US Juice firm takes a foothold in the Philippines.
- Rungfapaisarn, Kwanchai. (September 16, 2006) The Nation Health drink in direct-marketing debut.
- Oat, Brittany (July 14, 2006). "Goji: Health Elixir or Pricey Juice?". ABC News. Retrieved 2007-09-24.
- Wendy Mesley (January 27, 2007). "Getting Juiced". CBC Marketplace. Retrieved 2016-05-31.
- Lowell James A. (June 1986). "An Irreverent Look at the Vitamin Bible and Its Author (Earl Mindell)". Quackwatch, Nutrition Forum.
- Li G, Sepkovic DW, Bradlow HL, Telang NT, Wong GY (2009). "Lycium barbarum inhibits growth of estrogen receptor positive human breast cancer cells by favorably altering estradiol metabolism". Nutr Canc. 61 (3): 408–414. doi:10.1080/01635580802585952. PMID 19373615.
- Mao, F; Xiao, B; Jiang, Z; Zhao, J; Huang, X; Guo, J (2010). "Anticancer effect of Lycium barbarum polysaccharides on colon cancer cells involves G0/G1 phase arrest". Medical Oncology. 28 (1): 121–126. doi:10.1007/s12032-009-9415-5. PMID 20066520.
- Amagase H, Nance DM (May 2008). "A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical study of the general effects of a standardized Lycium barbarum (Goji) Juice, GoChi". Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 14 (4): 403–12. doi:10.1089/acm.2008.0004. PMID 18447631.
- Daniells, S (October 8, 2008). "Questions raised over Goji science". NutraIngredients-USA.com. Retrieved 2010-03-23.
- Weaver, Clair. (June 17, 2007). "Why goji is more fad than fact". Sunday Telegraph.
- "DSA Member Directory: Company: FreeLife International". Direct Selling Association. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
- United States District Court for the District of Arizona (May 29, 2009). "Class action lawsuit against FreeLife International, Inc" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 1, 2010. Retrieved 2009-10-31.
- Class-Action Suit Filed against FreeLife and Earl Mindel
- Breathe.org and FreeLife Joint Statement
- FreeFacts.com - Page Error