Gerber, Beech-Nut Participate in NAD Forum

New York, NY – Oct. 28, 2008 – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Beech-Nut Nutrition Corporation discontinue claims that suggest that its “Good Morning” and “Good Evening” baby-food products would improve an infant’s attentiveness or allow the infant to learn better or grow faster.

The advertising at issue was challenged before NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, by Gerber Products Company, a competing maker of infant-nutrition products.

NAD examined claims on product packaging and Internet and print advertising for Beech-Nut’s “Good Morning” and “Good Evening” baby-food products, as well as product packaging and advertising for the “Good Evening Veggie Delight Juice” and “Yogurt Blends with Juice.”

Claims at issue in the NAD inquiry included the express claims:

  •  Good Morning Chiquita Banana Juice with Yogurt “supports attentiveness for learning.”
  •  “One gram of [a]dded soluble fiber NOT found in regular baby juice”
  • Good Evening Veggie Delight Juice “supports healthy growth during night” and contains “[a]dded high quality protein…NOT found in regular baby juice.”
  • Beech-Nut offers “+14% more food than Gerber on Stage 2 foods” and “an extra ½ oz. of food in every Stage 2 jar.”

NAD also examined the implied claims:

  • The name “Veggie Delight Juice” suggests that the product contains 100% juice.
  • Beech-Nut’s Yogurt Blends with Juice suggests that the product is primarily a yogurt product. 

NAD noted in its decision that claims related to the health and growth benefits of infant-nutrition products have a strong impact, given that parents of infants are a potentially vulnerable target audience. Such claims, NAD noted, “require reliable scientific evidence that shows that the product or, at the very least, the added nutrients confer(s) the advertised benefits.”

NAD determined that, to the extent the claims are accurate, the advertiser is free to tout the fact that its Good Morning product contains more soluble fiber than competing products and that its Good Evening products contain more protein and calcium than competing products, as these claims are simply ingredient claims. 

In this case, NAD noted, there was no evidence in the record, including clinical testing on infants or toddlers, that demonstrated eating the Good Morning or Good Evening products would improve an infant’s attentiveness, or allow the infant to learn better or grow faster.  Further, NAD noted, there was no evidence that adding one gram of soluble fiber to an infant’s diet in the morning and high quality protein in the evening would provide such benefits.

Absent such evidence, NAD recommended the advertiser discontinue the claim that Good Morning Chiquita Banana Juice with Yogurt “supports attentiveness for learning,” as well as the claim that Good Evening Veggie Delight Juice “supports healthy growth during night.”  Further, NAD recommended the advertiser discontinue related claims on product packaging.

Regarding the advertiser’s Veggie Delight Juice, which contains 40 percent juice, NAD took note that FDA regulations state that use of the unqualified term “juice” to describe a beverage that is less than 100 percent juice is misleading.

To avoid the potential for any consumer confusion, NAD recommended that the advertiser modify the name of the product to more accurately describe the juice content of the product (e.g., Veggie Delight Juice Drink).

However, NAD found that, absent evidence of consumer confusion or applicable regulation, the product name “Yogurt Blends with Juice” was adequately supported.

Finally, NAD determined claims that Beech-Nut offers “+14% more food than Gerber on Stage 2 foods” and “an extra ½ oz. of food in every Stage 2 jar”  were inaccurate because both Gerber and Beech-Nut offer products in 3.5 and 4 oz. sizes and thus recommended the claims be discontinued.

Beech-Nut, in its advertiser’s statement, said “it will take the NAD’s concerns into consideration in the development of its future advertising and will make such modifications as necessary to comply with the NAD’s decision.  As to those issues raised which are regulated by the FDA, the Advertiser will take the NAD’s concerns into consideration but will also continue to rely on the advice of counsel with regard to issues of regulatory compliance.”