Advanced ingredient requires specific “not from mom” label

Formula Forward

Abbott Nutrition did something unique.

It added a new ingredient to its Similac Pro-Advance and Pro-Sensitive infant formulas that, until now, had only been available in human breast milk: 2’-fucosyllactose human milk oligosaccharide, or 2’-FL HMO. This particular carbohydrate, the most abundant chemical of its kind in the milk of most American mothers, has been linked to demonstrated benefits for babies, including boosts to their immune system.

It’s the Source

When Mead Johnson Nutrition challenged Abbott’s advertising before the National Advertising Division (NAD), it didn’t dispute the nature of the new ingredient, or the claims that have been made about its benefits. Instead, it challenged the use of the words “human milk” in advertising the product.

Abbott had used several tag lines with the phrase, including “COMING SOON SIMILAC WITH HUMAN MILK OLIGOSACCHARIDE” and “Closest to breast milk . . . Unlike other formulas, we have 2’-FL HMO, an immune-nourishing prebiotic that circulates throughout the body.” NAD also reviewed whether the ingredient was “derived from human milk or that only Abbott products provide immune nourishing benefits.”

The Decision

In its decision, NAD dispensed of the notion that Abbott was making a boast about Similac’s superiority. The company, NAD maintained, was merely advertising its exclusive use of the ingredient. The product benefits were also not in dispute.

On the central concern regarding the human milk claims, NAD recommended that Abbott add “not from human milk” in a conspicuous fashion to ensure the advertising did not play on the preference of new parents for products derived from human milk. The division also recommended that existing advertising be adjusted to make the same notice conspicuous.

The Takeaway

Abbott Nutrition agreed with the requested changes, and promised to comply fully with NAD’s decision.