NAD Recommends Novus International Halt Certain Comparative Claims Following Challenge from Micronutrients

New York, NY – June 26, 2013 – The National Advertising Division recommended that Novus International, the maker of livestock feed supplements, discontinue certain comparative advertising claims following a challenge by Micronutrients, the maker of Intellibond.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

The challenger and advertiser both produce copper trace mineral supplements that are mixed with livestock feed. The advertiser’s products, Mintrex and MAAC, are organic trace minerals, created by combining an essential metal like copper with carbon-based substances such as an organic acid. The challenger’s product, Intellibond C, is an inorganic trace mineral known as tribasic copper chloride (TBCC).

The challenged claims appeared in a technical paper or “product brief” that incorporated a question-and-answer format and was distributed by Novus to its customers and potential customers. Micronutrients challenged the following:

  •  “TBCC performance is consistently similar to or worse than sulfates.”
  •  “Some of the studies MicroNutrients promotes are suspect. Others show poor performance of TBCC.”
  •  “MINTREX and MACC chelated trace minerals are the most bioavailable trace minerals on the market.” Accompanied by a graphic of the bioavailability of different zinc supplements.
  •  “TBCC is just another inorganic trace material.”
  •  “TBCC is just another inorganic trace material that is more expensive than other inorganic trace minerals…”
  •  “Question: Is it safe to feed recycled industrial waste? Answer: TBCC is made from excess copper from printed wiring boards and circuit boards that were once considered waste. It is now recycled to make trace mineral copper.”
  •  “TBCC has dangerous levels of dioxin-like PCBs in numerous lots tested.”
  •  “Question: Is there a risk of high chlorine levels with TBCC? Answer: Yes.”
  •  “Some TBCC customers have raised concerns about the total chloride content in diets containing TBCC.”
  •  “Question: What is a stretched covalent bond? Answer: We don’t know. Accompanied by graphic entitled: Misleading Interpretation of Chelation Bonds.”

The Product Brief highlights the alleged performance, bioavailability, toxins, source and chemical composition of TBCC. The advertiser maintained that it developed its Product Brief in response to previous advertising by the challenger. NAD reviewed the messages conveyed by the challenged claims in the context in which they appeared in the Product Brief.

Following its review of the advertiser’s evidence, NAD recommended Novus discontinue claims:

  •  “Some of the studies MicroNutrients promotes are suspect. Others show poor performance of TBCC.
  •  “TBCC performance is consistently similar to or worse than sulfates.”
  •  “Mintrex and MAAC chelated trace minerals are the most bioavailable trace minerals on the market.”
  •  “TBCC is just another inorganic trace mineral that is more expensive than other organic trace minerals for no additional value.”
  •  “TBCC is just another inorganic trace mineral that is more expensive than other inorganic trace minerals.”

NAD further recommended that Novus discontinue the claim “TBCC has dangerous levels of dioxin-like PCBs in numerous lots tested.” However, NAD noted, nothing in its decision prevents the advertiser from truthfully and accurately describing the some lots of TBCC that it tested exceeded the European Union’s action threshold or maximum limit of dioxin and dioxin-like PCBs. The description should also include the year that the lots were tested as the longer time passes, the less relevant the advertiser’s current tests become.

NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue two questions in its Q-and-A series:

”Question: Is there a risk of high chlorine levels with TBCC? Answer: Yes.” NAD noted that there was no evidence in the record to identify what constituted a high chlorine content or that TBCC contained a high amount.

“Question: Is it safe to feed recycled industrial waste? Answer: TBCC is made from excess copper from printed wiring boards and circuit boards that were once considered waste. It is now recycled to make trace mineral copper.” The advertiser, NAD noted, did not submit any evidence that recycled copper poses a safety risk to livestock or humans.

NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the following statement: “Misleading Interpretation of Chelation Bonds,” or modify it to remove the word “misleading.”

NAD determined that the advertiser had a reasonable basis for the following: “What is a stretched covalent bond? Answer: We don’t know.”

However, the advertiser submitted no evidence that established that the challenger had misled its customers by using the more colorful adjective “stretched” to describe TBCC’s long bonds.

Novus, in its advertiser’s statement, said that while it “firmly believes that all of the challenged claims in the Product Brief are accurate and supported by scientific evidence, in the interest of resolving this matter, Novus has agreed to abide by the NAD’s decision. Novus appreciates the guidance provided by the NAD.”