NAD Finds Walden Farms can Substantiate Certain Claims for ‘Calorie Free Whipped Peanut Spreads,’ Recommends Company Discontinue Certain Claims

New York, NY – Oct. 31, 2013 – The National Advertising Division has determined that Walden Farms, Inc., can support certain claims for its Calorie Free Whipped Peanut Spreads, but recommended the advertiser discontinue certain claims.

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

As part of its routine monitoring efforts, NAD requested substantiation for claims on the product labels, as well as at the advertiser’s website. Claims reviewed by NAD included:

Express Claims:

  •  “Introducing New Walden Farms Calorie Free Whipped Peanut Spreads.”
  •  “No Calories and Totally Delicious!”
  •  “No Calories, Fat, Carbs, Gluten or Sugars of any kind!”
  •  “Classic Peanut Spread that’s smooth & creamy with Natural Fresh Roasted Peanut Flavor.”
  •  “Cinnamon Raisin Peanut Spread with Natural Cinnamon and Sweet Raisins.”
  •  “When making a PB&J, switch from other brands of peanut butter loaded with sugar and almost 200 calories in just 2 level tablespoons to new Walden Farms Whipped Peanut Spread and save over 600 calories when made with Walden Farms Calorie Free Fruit Spreads, ‘The Walden Way’.”
  •  “Eat Healthy The Walden Way. Switch to Walden Farms Calorie Free Specialties. Save 330 calories a day, 10,000 calories a month, lose 34 pounds a year!”

Implied Claim:

  •  Consumers will lose weight simply by eating Walden Farms Calorie Free Products.
  •  Walden farms products are all natural and/or do not contain any artificial ingredients.

As an initial matter, NAD noted that the advertising at issue made two types of weight loss claims – claims that related to the amount of calories that consumers could save by switching to Walden Farms products from other “regular” brands, and claims about the amount of actual weight loss that could be achieved by consumers who have switched to Walden Farms.

With regard to the “calorie savings” claims, the advertiser simply used the amount of calories consumed in “regular” brands as the point of comparison and then calculated the amount of calories that could be saved by switching to the Walden Farms product(s).

Although NAD does not find any flaws in this common sense approach to calculating the amount of calories that can be saved when switching to a calorie-free product, NAD was concerned about the basis for the advertiser’s calculations.

Following its review of the evidence, NAD determined that the advertiser did not establish a reasonable basis for its specific calorie savings claim “When making a PB&J, switch from other brands of peanut butter loaded with sugar and almost 200 calories in just 2 level tablespoons to new Walden Farms Whipped Peanut Spread and save over 600 calories when made with Walden Farms Calorie Free Fruit Spreads, ‘The Walden Way’” and recommended the claim be discontinued.

NAD concluded that while the advertiser provided support for a reduce calories and lose weight claim based on the established connection between the amount of calories consumed and the amount of weight loss (or weight gain) that results, it failed to provide a reasonable basis to support its specific product performance claim. NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its use of the claim “Lose 34 Pounds a Year!”

However, with regard to more general calorie savings claims relating to the entire line of Walden Farms products, such as “Save 330 calories a day, 10,000 calories a month . . . .” and “Save 10,000 Calories A Month ‘ The Walden Way,’” NAD determined that consumers would likely take away the accurate message that if, on a daily basis, they use at least one of the Walden Farms products, they will consume an average of 330 calories a day less than they would have consumed with a “regular” product.

NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its use of the overly broad unqualified healthy food claim, “Eat Healthy ‘The Walden Way.’”

However, NAD determined that the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for its claims that Walden Farms products contain “No Calories, Fat, Carbs, Gluten or Sugars of any kind!” NAD also found that the phrase “Totally Delicious” (within the claim “No Calories and Totally Delicious”) would likely be understood by consumers as puffery, and therefore no substantiation was required.

NAD further determined that the advertising did not convey the implied message that Walden Farms products are all natural.

The company took issue with certain of NAD’s findings, but said its respects “the self-regulatory process and will consider NAD’s recommendations in future advertising.”