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Procter & Gamble pays fines to settle lawsuit over Olay packaging

Consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble Co. has settled a lawsuit alleging that the company used oversized packaging to make its Olay beauty products seem larger than they are.

The civil complaint, which was filed by district attorneys in Riverside, Yolo, Fresno and Shasta counties, said the Cincinnati-based company violated California's slack fill law, which prohibits companies from using packaging with so much empty space that the item can seem bigger than it really is.

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As part of the settlement, Procter & Gamble will pay $850,000 in fines without admitting wrongdoing, and must change its packaging by Jan. 1, 2018.

After being notified of the allegations, the company launched a review of its products and said it would change the packaging of the entire Olay product line, according to the Riverside County district attorney's office.

"It'll be easier for the consumer to understand what Olay is actually selling for what they're paying," said Elise Farrell, senior deputy district attorney for Riverside County, who prosecuted the case.

Procter & Gamble spokeswoman Kate DiCarlo said the company continually upgrades packaging during a product's life cycle and has already made some changes to Olay packaging "to ensure there is absolutely no confusion for our consumers."

"We continue to maintain our position that our packaging is, has been and will be fully compliant with all laws and regulations," she said.

Each of the four district attorney offices will receive $194,000 in civil penalties and $12,000 for costs.

The lawsuit was the result of a multiyear investigation into Olay's beauty line that started in 2012, Farrell said.

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