Nestle to Drop "Deceptive" Health Claims

July 16, 2010

A subsidiary of Nestle will drop allegedly "deceptive" health claims it made in ads for a children's drink.

As part of a settlement to resolve a challenge from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a subsidiary of Nestlé, the world's largest food and nutrition company, has agreed to drop allegedly "deceptive" health claims it made in advertisements of its children's drink "BOOST Kid Essentials".

The FTC has charged Nestlé HealthCare Nutrition, Inc. with making deceptive claims in television, magazine, and print ads that BOOST Kid Essentials prevents upper respiratory tract infections in children, protects against colds and flu by strengthening the immune system, and reduces absences from daycare or school due to illness.

It marks the first time the FTC has challenged advertising for a probiotic product, according to the organization. Nestlé’s agreement to drop the claims was part of a settlement to resolve the challenge.

BOOST Kid Essentials is a nutritionally complete drink intended for children ages 1 to 13. The probiotics in BOOST Kid Essentials are embedded in a straw that comes with the drink, which was prominently featured in ads for the product.

“‪Nestlé’s claims that its probiotic product would prevent kids from getting sick or missing school just didn’t stand up to scrutiny,” said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Parents want to do right by their kids, and the FTC is helping them by monitoring ads and stopping those that are deceptive.”

The advertisements challenged by the FTC featured the drink’s probiotic straw. In one ad, the straw jumped out of the drink box, formed a protective barrier around a girl as she encountered a sneezing boy, and then formed steps allowing her to reach a basketball hoop and shoot a ball into the net.

Although FDA approval of health claims generally is not required for compliance with the FTC Act, in this case, the FTC determined that requiring FDA pre-approval before Nestlé HCN makes claims that certain products prevent or reduce the risk of upper respiratory tract infections will provide clearer guidance. In turn, this will facilitate Nestlé HCN’s compliance with the proposed settlement order and will make the order easier to enforce.