For the second time in less than a month, Heartland Sweeteners has apparently been told by an advertising industry self-regulatory body that the company should not promote its Nevella with Probiotics® artificial sweetener with immune system and digestive health claims unless it can support them with “competent and reliable evidence.” Information about action taken against the company in August 2010 by the appellate arm of the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus appears in Issue 362 of this Update.  

NAD apparently took its latest action in response to a challenge filed by Heartland rival McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, which makes Splenda®. Among Heartland’s claims were that its product “Provides digestive and immune system health benefits in every packet,” “Promotes digestive health” and “Supports a healthy immune system.” According to NAD, the company based its claims on studies about the benefits of individual ingredients. “[W]hen the substantiation in the record consists solely of evidence regarding the efficacy of ingredients in a product, but not for the product itself, the advertising must not suggest or imply that the product provides the claimed benefits,” said NAD. “ The claims must clearly be expressed as ingredient claims.”  

NAD also observed that as to ingredient claims, “the product must be identical in composition and dosage to the ingredient proven efficacious in the studies.” NAD called for the company to discontinue the challenged health benefit claims, due to the absence of sufficient or relevant evidence of product testing. See NAD News, September 1, 2010.