ERSP Finds Sun Basket, Inc. Can Support Certain Claims for its Meal Delivery Service, Recommends Marketer Modify or Discontinue Other Claims

New York, NY – Dec. 6, 2017 – The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has determined that Sun Basket, Inc. can support certain claims for its meal delivery service, but recommended the marketer modify or discontinue other claims.

ERSP is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The marketer’s advertising came to the attention of ERSP pursuant to an anonymous challenge.

ERSP reviewed online advertising claims that included:

  • Sun Basket – Healthy organic meal delivery”
  • Healthy cooking made easy”
  • “Lean and Clean”
  • “Organic and non-GMO ingredients and delicious easy recipes designed for healthy weight management”

The challenger pointed to several claims on Sun Basket’s website and in search results as implying that all of Sun Basket’s meal kits and all individual meals/ingredients included within them are organic. The challenger also argued that Sun Basket promotes its products using the word “healthy” in a variety of messaging, without any qualifications, causing reasonable consumers to believe that Sun Basket’s meal kits lead to better health and/or comply with generally positive interpretations of the term. The challenger also contended that several claims constitute unqualified weight loss claims and that the “lean and clean” meal plan does not qualify as lean.

At the outset of the inquiry, the marketer informed ERSP that it made several voluntary changes to its marketing and explained that it has removed all unqualified organic claims, and that all current organic claims that the company currently makes convey that Sun Basket meals include organic ingredients and also include ingredients that are sustainable. Sun Basket added a link to its homepage that details its “organic and sustainable” standards for produce, meat, seafood and other ingredients.

After reviewing the claims on Sun Basket’s website, ERSP determined that the marketer’s reference to organic meals and organic ingredients in the original advertising at issue inaccurately communicated that Sun Basket meals contained all or almost all organic ingredients. ERSP concluded that the marketer’s voluntary modification, when evaluated in the full context of the advertising, was still inadequate in clearly communicating to consumers that Sun Basket meals feature organic ingredients wherever possible.

ERSP found that use of the term “healthy” was consistent with the expectations of consumers in Sun Basket’s target audience and that the reasonable consumer would not interpret the marketer’s “healthy” characterization of the food in its recipes as promising specific levels of nutrients in those foods. As such, ERSP determined that the marketer’s use of the term “healthy” in its advertising was not inappropriate and did not communicate an implied nutrient content claim to consumers.

ERSP agreed that the current advertising does not communicate any specific weight loss claims.

ERSP also reviewed Sun Basket’s “lean and clean” meal plan.

ERSP recognized that the marketer’s use of the word “clean” was not inappropriate. ERSP acknowledged that the marketer’s intended use of “lean” in describing its “lean and clean” meal plan was to communicate that the meals can be used as part of a consumer’s weight management plan to help the consumer stay “lean,” and that it also includes reference to weight management on the recipe page of the Sun Basket website. ERSP also determined that unlike the more nebulous term “clean,” it would not be unreasonable for consumers in the target audience to understand the term “lean” as pertaining directly to the nutritional profile of the ingredients contained in the meal and recommended that the marketer include additional language to describe the term “lean” as it pertains to its “lean and clean” meal recipes.

The company, in its marketer’s statement, said, “Sun Basket appreciates the opportunity to participate in the ERSP self-regulatory process. We are committed to creating the highest quality products and to being clear and transparent in our messaging, including our brand standards which can be found at our website. We plan to continue to work with CCOF, our organic certifying agency, as the meal kit industry and our offerings evolve, and we will take ERSP’s recommendations regarding our claims under consideration as we update and refine our advertising to reflect these developments.”