Good To Nose Baraka Blog

Product Transparency

Written By: Sue
June 9, 2016

t-relief picLarge Corporation Deceit

What if you couldn’t tell the difference between products? What if the product you thought you were buying was a different product all together- different ingredients, from a different company and packaging that are barely distinguishable from the product you had come to trust over the years. It happens… more often than you think.

In this blog, I’m steering away from sinus health to write about what could be of interest to readers when it comes to buying trusted name brands.

Since the late 1990s, Big Food corporations are buying established natural products companies. For example, Annie’s is now owned by General Mills, and Honest Tea is owned by PepsiCo. There are no big announcements when this happens, which leaves consumers in the dark. Most times, the packaging retains a write up about the original founders as if they are still involved in the company. In the last decade, the acquisitions of natural products have accelerated because the public is demanding healthier alternatives. In other words, there is money to be made and now these large corporations are not only buying established businesses, but they are funding and partnering some start-ups anticipating the next trend. Sort of like what happened with the start ups in the tech industry years ago. There’s almost a frenzy about it.

Below I’m going to give you a case study around a product called Trameel.

If you typically stock your medicine chest with natural remedies you probably have Traumeel at home. In fact Traumeel (an anti-inflammatory) has quite a following and for a while it was even sold in stores like CVS.

I’ve used Traumeel for about 20 years because it’s effective with bruising or minor strains.  As I’ve gotten older, I find it useful on my achy knees. Nine months ago, I bought new tube of it. I noticed that it had been renamed to T-Relief. Or so I thought. I took it home and a week later used it on my knees, but something was different – it wasn’t as creamy and didn’t absorb as well. I didn’t think anything more and went out on a hike. But the T-Relief didn’t work. I chalked it up to age and applied extra amounts on my knees before my next few hikes to see if that would make a difference. It didn’t and life went on until one day I came across an old tube of Traumeel in my drawer. I grabbed the T-Relief and began comparing the packaging. Although it was different, it was also similar enough for me to think it was the same product.

Here’s the story:  In Aug of 2014, Heel, the German manufacturer of Traumeel pulled out of the US. They sold the rights to Medinatura to continue selling many of Heel products, however, Traumeel was not one of them.

When I look at the T-Relief packaging and see the similarity it bears to Traumeel, I imagine that someone wanted me to believe it was Traumeel. In addition, there is a statement across the top reading “now more arnica” but how could there be more arnica if the product had never been in distribution before… unless of course they are referring to Traumeel. And check this out: if you do a google search and type in “traumeel discontinued” you will come up with a page that has side by side pictures of Traumeel and T-Relief. There is very little distinguishable difference in the packaging. And there is a list of what makes T-Relief favorable over Traumeel. Things like “safe for the stomach and liver” as if Traumeel were unsafe for your stomach or liver or “no petroleum or mercury” as if Traumeel had included this in their formula!

Since I’m in touch with buyers in health food stores all around the country, I asked them if they knew that T-Relief wasn’t Traumeel and the answer was a resounding NO. They all believed it was the same product just renamed.

Being a business owner, I can understand why Medinatura wanted me to continue to use what is now T-Relief. As a consumer, I probably would have given it a try. It still wouldn’t have worked, but at least I would not be questioning Medinatura’s intentions.

Is this story common? Maybe not quite like this since it is rare that a company doesn’t buy the entire product line. But what is common- is the lack of transparency. In order to uncover who owns what, you can download this app called Buycott (buycott.com). This app gives you the ability to scan barcodes and uncover who is the owner.  In addition, another great website is Cornucopia.org. They are a nonprofit that evaluates how organic are your organics. Please write us if you know of other ways to call out companies for who they truly are.



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