NAD Finds Gerber Can Support Certain Claims Challenged by Nurture, Inc., Recommends Company Modify Claim for ‘Good Start Gentle Formula’

New York, NY – June 20, 2014  – The National Advertising Division has determined that Gerber Products Company can support advertising claims made on product packaging and in website advertising that  various Gerber baby and toddler food products are a “good” or “excellent” source of certain nutrients. NAD recommended the company modify a claim made for Gerber Good Start Gentle Formula.

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

Nurture, Inc., a maker of competing infant and toddler foods, challenged claims that included:

•    “Good source” of specified nutrient
•    “Excellent source” of specified nutrient
•    “May reduce risk of atopic dermatitis”
•    “Made with Farm-Grown Vegetables”

The challenger took issue with Gerber’s claims that certain of its products are a “good source” or “excellent source” of a particular nutrient such as iron, zinc, or vitamin E and  noted that Food and Drug Administration regulations generally prohibit the use of nutrient content claim for products intended for consumption by children under two years of age.

The challenger argued that such claims are prohibited because the benchmark amounts against which nutrient content claims are measured (Reference Daily Intakes or RDIs) apply only to people over the age of two.

NAD noted in its decision that there was no dispute between the parties regarding the amounts of the named vitamins and nutrients that are found in the advertised products.

“The challenger’s objection to these claims rests largely on its reading of FDA regulations regarding the use of nutrient content claims on products intended for children under two years of age. While NAD often looks to governmental regulations that apply to the product category in question, NAD’s central role remains determining whether advertising claims are substantiated. NAD noted that FDA regulations are instructive to the extent that the regulations address the question of whether the advertising claims at hand are misleading,” NAD stated in its decision.

NAD determined that Gerber’s “good source” and “excellent source” claims were supported by virtue of the nutrient contents of the products on which they appeared. For example, Gerber’s Graduates Bitty Bites, strawberry flavor, contain 10% of the Daily Value of Vitamin E, iron, and zinc. NAD determined that considering the “good source” and “excellent source” claims from the perspective of an ordinary consumer, this product (and Gerber’s other similarly marketed products) met the criteria for being a “good source” of the named nutrients.

NAD further determined that Gerber’s claim that Good Start Gentle Formula “may help reduce the risk of atopic dermatitis” did not adequately reflect the uncertainty of the underlying evidence. NAD recommended the advertiser modify the claim by clearly and conspicuously disclosing the actual qualified health claim that was approved by the FDA.

Finally, NAD determined that the advertiser’s claim “Made with Farm-Grown Vegetables” is not misleading.

Gerber, in its advertiser’s statement, said it “continues to strongly believe that the claim ‘may help reduce the risk of atopic dermatitis’ is well supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence.  Gerber will take the NAD’s recommendation into account in its future advertising efforts. Gerber thanks NAD for its work on this matter and reiterates its support for the self-regulatory process.”