The FTC recently settled claims against Mars Petcare US, Inc., in connection with claims made for its Eukanuba Brand Dog Food. The FTC alleged in its complaint that Mars Petcare claimed in various advertising media that its premium Eukanuba brand dog food caused dogs to live 30% longer than their typical lifespan and to live exceptionally long lives, both of which Mars claimed were supported by scientific test results. However, the FTC alleged that the advertiser’s support for its claims was based on the results from a single study, the results of which showed no significant difference in the median age at death of the dogs in the study relative to the typical age at death of dogs of the same breed.

The terms of the settlement prohibit Mars Petcare from making further misleading and unsubstantiated longevity claims, including claims that such health benefits are supported by scientific studies, and include strict compliance and recordkeeping requirements.

TIP: Health efficacy claims must be supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence, which the FTC interprets as meaning tests, analyses, research, or studies that have been conducted and evaluated in an objective manner by qualified persons and are generally accepted in the profession to yield accurate and reliable results. Further, establishment claims, or claims that results are supported by the scientific establishment (i.e., “clinically proven to…” or “studies support…”) can be very persuasive to a consumer, so advertisers should verify that the studies relied on to make the establishment claims are statistically and clinically meaningful.