Ad regulator questions probiotic claims

by Jeff Gelski
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NEW YORK – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus on Sept. 1 recommended Heartland Sweeteners, L.L.C. discontinue advertising claims that say Nevella with Probiotics, a sucralose no-calorie sweetener product, offers certain health benefits. The N.A.D. requested support for the implied claim that consumers will receive health benefits, such as improved digestive health and immune system support, by using Nevella with Probiotics.

“Product performance claims should be supported by competent and reliable evidence, with the gold standard being testing on the product itself,” the N.A.D. said.

McNeil Nutritionals, L.L.C., based in Fort Washington, Pa., and the manufacturer of Splenda No-Calorie Sweetener, challenged the claims.

Nevella with Probiotics uses GanedenBC30 probiotic strains from Ganeden Biotech, Cleveland. While Ganeden Biotech has published clinical studies to back up the efficacy of GanedenBC30, the N.A.D. said Heartland Sweeteners, Carmel, Ind., had not done any product testing to determine the efficacy of Nevella with Probiotics.

“When the substantiation in the record consists solely of evidence regarding the efficacy of ingredients in a product, but not for the product itself, the advertising must not suggest or imply that the product proved the claimed benefits,” the N.A.D. said. “The claims must be clearly expressed as ingredient claims.”

Heartland Sweeteners, in its advertiser’s statement, said it disagreed with the N.A.D. finding, but “has already undertaken to revise its packaging. Heartland will also take the decision into account in reviewing its future packaging and advertising.”

The case marked the second N.A.D. ruling involving Heartland Sweeteners in less than two weeks. A National Advertising Review Board panel on Aug. 20 recommended the company discontinue advertising claims that its Ideal brand sweetener is “more than 99% natural.” The N.A.D. determined about 80% of Ideal’s sweetness it the result of sucralose, an artificial high-intensity sweetener.

In regard to the Nevella with Probiotics sweetener, the N.A.D. reviewed claims made in print advertising, direct marketing and product packaging, including:

●”Nevella no-calorie sweetener now comes with all the health benefits of probiotics.”
●”Introducing the first No Calorie Sweetener with the benefits of Probiotics.”
●”With Nevella with Probiotics, it’s easy to get the benefits of probiotics in your morning coffee or sprinkled on fruit or cereal!”
●”Nevella with Probiotics provides you with a healthy, tasty way to cut calories from your diet while gaining the added benefits of probiotics.”
●”Provides digestive and immune system health benefits in every packet.”
●“Promotes digestive health.”
●”Supports a healthy immune system.”
●”Helps maintain intestinal health.”
●”GanedenBC30 is “10 times more effective than yogurt in delivering live cells*.” *In an independent lab study of a simulated gastric environment with a pH of 2.0 for two hours, GanedenBC30 delivered more than ten times the live cells than a leading probiotic yogurt.
●”Because our GanedenBC30 probiotic is protected by a layer of organic material, it delivers 10X the efficacy than a cup of yogurt.
●Nevella “delivers more active cultures than yogurt.”
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