NAD says tests fail to prove acai juice claims

by Jeff Gelski
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NEW YORK — Bossa Nova Beverage Group, Inc. should modify or discontinue certain advertising claims for its Bossa Nova Acai Juice, according to a recommendation from the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus given Oct. 6.

The NAD investigated the claims after POM Wonderful L.L.C., Los Angeles, filed a complaint. The NAD determined tests did not support the Bossa Nova advertising claims because of certain methodical flaws. The NAD thus recommended the following claims be discontinued:

● "Bossa Nova sets the standard for antioxidant potency. The proof is in the numbers (including the accompanying chart),"

● "Bossa Nova is higher in antioxidants and lower in sugars,"

● "higher antioxidant potency,"

● "more antioxidants."

In an advertiser’s statement, Bossa Nova said, "Despite Bossa Nova’s conviction that significant evidence supports claims of superiority, out of deference to NAD’s expertise, Bossa Nova agrees to take into account NAD’s finding in its inquiry with respect to its future advertising and packaging."

The NAD recommendation marked the second time this year POM Wonderful successfully has challenged a competitor’s claims. Purely Juice, Inc. was found liable for false advertising of its "100% pomegranate" product in a July 17 ruling by the U.S. District Court, Central District of California. The court awarded the plaintiff, POM Wonderful, $1,192,905 in lost incremental profits for the period of Purely Juice’s false advertising. The court also calculated Purely Juice’s profits at $305,137 during the period.

The complaint against Bossa Nova involved studies performed at Brunswick Laboratories and Texas A&M University that compared Bossa Nova Acai Juice’s oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) values against ORAC values of other juice drinks.

The NAD said the Texas A&M study did not qualify as head-to-head testing because it involved four different samples of Bossa Nova Acai Juice and one single bottle of each competitors’ juice products. The Brunswick test involved one bottle per juice product, including the Bossa Nova Acai Juice, but one single bottle cannot yield a reliable ORAC value, according to the NAD.

The NAD said a five-month ORAC study at Texas A&M provided a reasonable basis that Bossa Nova contains 38 ORAC units.

The NAD also had problems with Bossa Nova’s web site showing a Bossa Nova Acai Juice bottle next to an ORAC chart. The ORAC chart shows acai fresh fruit having an ORAC value of 167 compared to 106 for pomegranate. POM Wonderful said the chart may mislead the consumer into thinking Bossa Nova Acai Juice has a 167 ORAC value instead of a 38 ORAC value.

POM Wonderful pointed to a study published in a 2008 article in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry titled "Comparison of Antioxidant Potency of Commonly Consumed Polyphenol-Rich Beverage in the United States." The study placed pomegranate juice at the top of an antioxidant composite rank order of ready-to-drink beverages while acai juice was sixth.

The NAD recommended that Bossa Nova "clearly and conspicuously disclose that the chart represents the antioxidant levels of the fruit and in immediate proximity to the chart disclose the ORAC values of its juice product."

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