NAD Finds Kraft Heinz can Support Certain Claims for Salad Dressings, Recommends Advertiser Discontinue Certain Broadcast Ads

New York, NY – Jan. 4, 2016– The National Advertising Division has determined that Kraft Heinz can support challenged claims that its Ranch, Caesar, and Italian salad dressings do not contain artificial flavors.  NAD has recommended, however, that the company discontinue two television commercials that convey an implied “artificial colors” message about competing products.

The claims at issue were challenged by HV Food Products, a subsidiary of The Clorox Company and the maker of Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressings.

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

NAD examined express claims that included:

  • Kraft dressings, including Kraft Ranch, have no artificial flavors.
  • Kraft dressings, including Kraft Ranch, have no synthetic colors.
  • That it’s no wonder that Kraft dressings, including Kraft Ranch, taste so good.

NAD also considered whether the advertising at issue implied that:

  • Kraft dressings are natural products.
  • Hidden Valley Ranch contains synthetic colors.
  • Consumers prefer Kraft Ranch’s taste to Hidden Valley Ranch’s taste.
  • Consumers prefer Kraft Caesar’s and Kraft Italian’s taste to other dressing.
  • Kraft Ranch is better tasting to consumers because of the absence of artificial flavors and synthetic colors in Kraft Ranch, and the presence of such ingredients in Hidden Valley Ranch.
  • Kraft Caesar and Kraft Italian generally are better tasting to consumers because of the absence of artificial flavors and synthetic colors in the dressings, and the presence of such ingredients in other dressings.

The challenger pointed to three specific ingredients in the featured Kraft dressings that it contended were artificial flavors: phosphoric acid; disodium inosinate (DI) and disodium guanylate (DG).

NAD noted in its decision that although DI and DG are designated by the FDA as “flavor enhancers” not “flavors,” consumers would understand them to be “flavors” in the context of a “no artificial flavors” claim. Further, NAD noted, it was persuaded that the purpose and function of phosphoric acid in Kraft salad dressings was not to impart flavor, but rather to provide shelf-stabilization and proper pH balance.

NAD determined that the advertiser’s express claim that Kraft Ranch, Kraft Caesar and Kraft Italian dressings contain “no artificial flavors” was substantiated. It also determined that the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for the comparative claim version of the claim that its dressings contained “no artificial flavors” while Hidden Valley Ranch did contain artificial flavors.

NAD found that the two challenged commercials conveyed the unsupported implied message that Hidden Valley Ranch contains “synthetic colors.” Accordingly, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the advertisements or modify them to avoid conflating its comparative claims regarding artificial flavors with its stand-alone claims that the featured Kraft dressings are made without synthetic colors.

NAD concluded that the challenged commercials did not convey broader implied “all natural” or “more healthful” messages. However, NAD found that the use of the tag line “no wonder it tastes so good,” in the context of the two challenged commercials, reasonably conveyed an unsupported comparative taste superiority message. NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the use of the tag line “no wonder it tastes so good” in the context of these commercials, or modify the commercials to more clearly separate the tag line about the products’ taste from the comparative elements of the commercial.

Kraft, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “agrees to comply with NAD’s recommendations.”

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.