The National Advertising Division (NAD®) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has reportedly determined that while Gerber Products Co. can justify certain of its baby food advertising claims, others should be modified or discontinued. Competitor Beech-Nut apparently challenged claims pertaining to Gerber’s “Graduates” product line before the industry self-regulatory body. Among other matters, NAD® found that “unique and innovative” claims were substantiated, and that Gerber could continue to make two exclusivity claims: “Only Graduates Lil’ Entrees is designed just for toddlers, with protein, grains, and a side of veggies . . . [o]f items in the Baby Aisle” and Gerber Graduates Healthy Meals are “The only meals designed for preschoolers with protein and a full serving of veggies.”

NAD® took issue, however, with “the message conveyed by Gerber’s TV commercials for its Fruit & Veggie Melts. This commercial features a voiceover that claims, ‘the Gerber generation is making their fruit and veggies disappear,’ as whole fruits and vegetables are shown to disappear into a bag of Melts.” According to NAD®, the visual depiction and voiceover “conveyed an unsupported message that Gerber’s Melts were nutritionally equivalent to whole fruits and vegetables and recommended that the advertiser discontinue the commercial.”

NAD® also recommended that “natural” claims be discontinued and that the company either discontinue “immune support” claims on its website or “modify it by making clear that its immunity-related benefit relates to the products’ capacity to ensure or maintain a healthy immune system by maintaining adequate levels of Vitamins A, C, and E.” Gerber has apparently agreed to follow the recommendations and expressed its expectation that competitors “similarly support self-regulation and . . . follow the recommendations NAD made in this decision.” See NAD News, January 17, 2012.

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.