The National Advertising Division (NAD), an arm of the advertising industry's self-regulation system, has concluded Saputo Cheese, USA, Inc. can support its claims that its string cheese is "natural" and "lowmoisture part-skim mozzarella cheese" despite challenger Lactalis American Group’s argument that Saputo’s products contain artificial phosphate and fillers.
Lactalis argued Saputo's products do not comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) standard of identity for "low-moisture part-skim mozzarella cheese" and the products could not be "natural" as their packaging asserts because of the addition of phosphate. Saputo argued phosphate occurs naturally in cheese and the existence of phosphate did not necessarily prove the company added synthetic phosphate.
In its determination, NAD acknowledged that it did not have the authority to deem something "misbranded" under FDA's regulations but noted that the products seemed to fit the standard of "low-moisture part-skim mozzarella cheese" because they contain 30 to 45 percent milk-fat. NAD also found no issue with the description of the products as "naturally nutritious" because "FDA has said it will maintain its policy . . . regarding the use of 'natural,' as meaning that nothing artificial or synthetic . . . has been added to a food that would not normally be expected to be found in that food." Without consumer-perception data, NAD concluded, it could not determine that consumers would be confused or deceived by Saputo's labeling claims.