NAD Examines Revised Claims for Olivet Pet Food Storage Containers Following Challenge by Van Ness Plastic Molding

New York, NY – Jan. 30, 2018 – Olivet International, Inc., a manufacturer of plastic pet food storage containers, said it has permanently discontinued advertising claims that the company’s products are made of recycled material and that they are “BPA free and food safe.”

NAD has determined that the advertiser can support revised claims that its products contain “a minimum of 25% recycled material” and are “food safe.”

Claims made by Olivet were challenged before NAD by Van Ness Plastic Molding Company, Inc., a competing manufacturer of plastic pet food storage containers. NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

NAD noted in its decision that the case presented a “confluence of two issues that are very important for many consumers – the safety of their pets’ food and the use of recycled content in products that they purchase (and the resulting impact on the environment that such a purchase provides).”

Olivet’s products are sold at Walmart stores and promoted as a joint effort between the advertiser and Walmart to use post-consumer waste from Walmart stores to make products sold at Walmart.

At the outset of the challenge, the advertiser informed NAD in writing that it had permanently discontinued the claims on its product packaging prior to the onset of the challenge and had replaced them with modified versions of the claims. The “made of recycled material” claim was modified to state, “contains a minimum of 25% recycled material.” The claim “BPA free and food safe” was modified to state that the product is “food safe.”

NAD reviewed the modified claims, as the challenged claims were permanently discontinued prior to the date of the challenge.

The challenger contended that neither the original nor the revised claims are truthful and accurate.  The challenger’s arguments focused on the feasibility of the advertiser obtaining sufficient post-consumer waste, undergoing the laborious process needed to sort and process comingled plastic and creating uniformly colored product parts from post-consumer waste. Van Ness maintained that the process would require the advertiser to expend incredible and unlikely costs.

NAD acknowledged the arguments and considered the questions when analyzing the advertiser’s evidence, which was submitted confidentially.

The advertiser provided NAD with information regarding its recycling process, including a description of its sourcing, sorting, and processing procedures that was submitted to FDA in seeking a letter of no objection. The material sought to explain how Olivet creates 100% recycled plastic pellets, referred to as “20-RW-5,” for use in the manufacture of its containers. It also provided data regarding the amount of 20-RW-5 and the amount of virgin plastic that it ships to its third-party contractors that make the containers. These numbers matched by weight the relative amount of claimed recycled content in Olivet’s pet food storage containers.

NAD found that, based on this evidence, the advertiser’s modified recycled content claim, “contains a minimum of 25% recycled material,” claims are supported. NAD noted that in advertising claim support, perfection is not required; rather an advertiser only needs to provide a reasonable basis for its claim.  The documentation involved in supporting this claim was sufficient to provide a reasonable basis for the advertiser’s claims.

NAD found the advertiser’s modified “food safe” claims supported, as well. Olivet provided a no objection letter from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that addressed the advertiser’s capability to clean and produce recycled plastic material for use in the manufacture of food contact articles. The letter, as well as the confidential submission upon which the letter is based, describe the sourcing of food safe bulk icing buckets and lids from Walmart bakeries, the lack of polymer additives used during the process and other elements of Olivet’s recycling process. The FDA letter concludes that the described process would produce recycled plastic “that may be used at a level of up to 100% recycled content in the manufacture of food contact articles.

NAD also noted that the advertiser showed that the virgin resin used to manufacture the remaining portion of its containers was food safe. Based on this evidence, NAD determined that the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for its “food safe” claim.

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.