NAD Considers Jurisdictional Issue, Recommends Beech-Nut Discontinue Certain Claims, Finds Certain Claims Supported After Gerber Challenge

New York, NY – April 18, 2017 – The National Advertising Division reviewed claims made as part of Beech-Nut Nutrition Company’s “Real Food for Real Babies” advertising campaign, following a challenge by Nestlé Nutrition USA, Inc., the competing maker of Gerber baby foods. NAD recommended the advertiser discontinue certain challenged claims, but found certain claims supported. NAD also considered a jurisdictional issues raised by Beech-Nut.

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

Nestlé challenged claims that included:

  • “Just real whole fruits and vegetables . . . And nothing else.”
  • “No one but us makes food for babies this way.”
  • “Glass is nature’s safest container.”
  • Beech-Nut’s glass containers are “[t]he ultimate in sustainability.”

Nestlé also questioned whether the advertising implied that:

  • Beech-Nut baby foods are fresh rather than thermally processed.
  • Beech-Nut baby foods are superior to Gerber baby foods with respect to nutrition and wholesomeness.
  • Plastic packaging may be unsafe for infants.

Beech-Nut argued at the outset that NAD should decline to exercise its jurisdiction because the majority of the challenged advertising had not been used in an active campaign for more than 18 months and requested that NAD administratively close the case.

NAD determined, however, that there was no basis for administrative closure. NAD’s procedures provide for administrative closures where the advertiser has permanently discontinued claims – not just challenged advertisements. In this case, NAD noted in its decision, the challenged claims appear at the advertiser’s website, in a YouTube video and on product packaging.

Turning to the “Real Food for Real Babies” commercial, NAD in its decision that there was no dispute that Beech-Nut’s products – like all packaged, shelf-stable baby food –  have been thermally processed to maintain sterility.

However, Nestlé argued that Beech-Nut’s television commercial and print advertising conveyed the unsupported message that Beech-Nut’s baby food is fresh, rather than thermally processed.  Beech-Nut maintained that its advertising only communicated the literally truthful message that its products are made from natural, whole ingredients, inspired by homemade preparations.

NAD determined that the claim “why puree today when you can open a jar tomorrow?” and visuals of Beech-Nut jars embedded in various fruits and vegetables did not convey the implied message that Beech-Nut’s baby food is fresh, rather than thermally processed.

However, NAD recommended that the advertiser either discontinue its use of the “COLDPUREE” claim on its baby food pouches and in the challenged print advertising, or modify it to clearly and conspicuously explain that “coldpuree” refers to the fact that the food is blended cold to protect the flavor and nutrients before it is gently cooked.

NAD next considered whether Beech-Nut’s social media advertising, which depicts peas in a pod along with the question “why puree today when you can open a jar tomorrow?” makes an unsupported fresh ingredient claim. NAD determined that, in the absence of any overt freshness messaging, a reasonable consumer is likely to take away the truthful message that Beech-Nut’s baby food is simply one alternative to homemade food.

NAD recommended that Beech-Nut modify it use of the claim “just real whole fruits and vegetables … And nothing else” to avoid conveying an unsupported line claim. NAD recommended Beech-Nut discontinue the claim that “no one but us makes food for babies this way.”

Regarding its packaging claims, NAD recommended that Beech-Nut discontinue its unsupported claims that “glass is the ultimate in sustainability,” that “glass is nature’s safest container.”

Beech-Nut, in its advertiser’s statement, took issue with certain of NAD’s findings, but said it supports the self-regulatory process and will comply with NAD’s recommendations.

However, the company said, it “respectfully disagrees with NAD’s jurisdiction determination insofar as it may not dissuade future challengers from commencing proceedings against stale advertising.”

Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.