NAD Recommends Hartz Modify, Discontinue Certain Claims For “Crunch N’ Clean” Dog Biscuits

New York, New York – Dec. 15,  2009 – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Hartz Mountain Corp., modify or discontinue certain advertising claims for the company’s “Crunch n’ Clean” Dog Biscuits.

NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined claims in print and Internet advertising and on product packaging following a challenge by Del Monte Foods, the maker of competing pet products, including Milk Bone dog biscuits. 

Claims at issue included:

Taste Preference

  • Taste Preferred 2 to 1 over the Leading Brand dog biscuits.  
  • Its taste is preferred 2 to 1.
  • Your dog will undoubtedly enjoy our Crunch n’ Clean Dog Biscuits over the leading brand.  

Tartar Removal

  • Removes 2 Times More Tartar than regular biscuits.
  • Has a patented ingredient DentaShield which helps remove TWO TIMES more Tartar than a regular biscuit.
  • A better CRUNCH is where it begins.  A better CLEAN is where it ends.  Leaving your dog with cleaner teeth, longer.

Tartar Blocking

  • The DentaShield ingredient coats your dog’s teeth creating a barrier; the barrier BLOCKS new tartar formation.
  • With patented DentaShield it blocks twice as much tartar as regular biscuits.
  • The new biscuit that blocks more tartar than regular biscuits. 

Ingredient Claims

  • Baked in Meaty Flavor.
  • Delicious and nutritious with a baked in meaty flavor

NAD also reviewed the claim “Veterinarian Recommended.”

At the outset, Hartz Mountain said it had permanently discontinued all its tartar-removal claims and taste-preference claims that included  “Its taste is preferred 2 to 1” (where the claim appears in an unmodified context) and “Your dog will undoubtedly enjoy our Crunch n’ Clean Dog Biscuits over the leading brand.

Based on the advertiser’s representation that the claims would not be used again in future advertising, NAD did not review those claims on the merits.

Turing to the remaining taste claims, NAD – citing concerns with the advertiser’s testing –found that the evidence in the record did not support the claims “Taste Preferred 2 to 1 over the Leading Brand dog biscuits” and “Its taste is preferred 2 to 1.”  NAD recommended the claims be discontinued. 

NAD further recommended that the advertiser modify claims related to the mechanism of action by eliminating the use of the descriptors “blocks” and “barrier.”  Crunch n’ Clean biscuits are formulated with sodium hexametaphosphate (HMP) that sequesters oral debris, but does not coat teeth to block or bar the formation of tartar.

NAD found the evidence in the record insufficient to support the claims “With patented DentaShield it blocks twice as much tartar as regular biscuits,” “The new biscuit that blocks more tartar than regular biscuits” and “Removes 2 Times More Tartar than regular biscuits,” but noted that nothing in the decision precludes the advertiser from touting the benefits of HMP in its product.

NAD noted its appreciation for the advertiser’s voluntary undertaking to permanently discontinue the “veterinarian recommended” claim, an action it deemed necessary and proper based on the record.  As for the modified claim, “veterinarian formulated,” although it was not one of the claims at issue identified in NAD’s opening letter to the advertiser, NAD determined that the claim, standing alone, was truthful and accurate, but recommended that the advertiser make clear that the “veterinarian” in this case, Dr. Melinda Fernyhough, is employed by the advertiser.  NAD cautioned Hartz to avoid communicating a broader and unsupported message in future advertising that there is a consensus among veterinarians about the product and its benefits.

Finally, NAD recommended that the claim “Baked in Meaty Flavor” be modified to more clearly indicate that it is derived from chicken. 

Hartz, in its advertiser’s statement, said that while the company does not agree with NAD’s findings, it will take NAD’s recommendations into consideration in its future advertising and packaging for the product.