FTC warns TikTokers who promoted aspartame without disclosing paid partnerships

FTC logo beside phone with tiktok icon on the leftFTC/Unsplash: @solenfeyissa

The Federal Trade Commission has sent warning letters to TikTokers and other influencers who promoted aspartame without disclosing that they were paid by massive corporations to do so.

Back in September, Dexerto reported that influencers across TikTok and Instagram were getting paid to promote aspartame in posts following a decision from the World Health Organization that marked the ingredient as a possible carcinogen.

Those influencers were reportedly paid by the American Beverage Association and the Canadian Sugar Institute, but the FTC says these influencers failed to disclose the partnerships on their posts.

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On November 15, 2023, the FTC sent warning letters to over a dozen people and companies warning them of their lack of disclosure.

FTC warns influencers about disclosure rules

According to the FTC press release, the letters say that influencers failed to adequately disclose that they were paid to post about Aspartame.

“Federal Trade Commission staff have sent warning letters to two trade associations and 12 registered dieticians and other online health influencers warning them about the lack of adequate disclosures in their Instagram and TikTok posts promoting the safety of the artificial sweetener aspartame or the consumption of sugar-containing products,” it reads.

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The commission says that the trade groups, American Beverage and The Canadian Sugar Institute, may have violated the FTC Act by failing to disclose that influencers were apparently hired to promote the safety of aspartame or the consumption of sugar-containing products.

TikTok logo on a dark backgroundUnsplash: Alexander Shatov

“It’s irresponsible for any trade group to hire influencers to tout its members’ products and fail to ensure that the influencers come clean about that relationship,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “That’s certainly true for health and safety claims about sugar and aspartame, especially when made by registered dieticians and others upon whom people rely for advice about what to eat and drink.”

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According to the FTC’s guide for endorsements, the influencers should have made a clear statement in the video that they were working alongside one of the two trade companies.

No punishments have been made, but the FTC made it clear that they could face penalties of up to $50,120 per violation for future failures to disclose partnerships in their posts.

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