The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced today that Nestlé will withdraw unsubstantiated advertising claims about the health benefits of a boxed drink for children. In the first case to challenge marketing claims made about probiotics — also known as “friendly bacteria” — the FTC questioned the validity of Nestlé ads which ran in 2008 and 2009 suggesting that BOOST Kid Essentials with probiotics can boost children’s immunity, enabling them to recover faster from bouts of cold and flu and reducing the number of days they miss school. As David Vladeck, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the FTC, said in a statement:
“Nestlé’s claims that its probiotic product would prevent kids from getting sick or missing school just didn’t stand up to scrutiny… Parents want to do right by their kids, and the FTC is helping them by monitoring ads and stopping those that are deceptive.”
The ads in question featured the probiotic straw — a straw that comes with the drink that has friendly bacteria embedded into it — and in one such spot “the straw jumped out of the drink box, formed a protective barrier around a girl as she encountered a sneezing boy, and then formed steps allowing her to reach a basketball hoop and shoot a ball into the net,” according to the FTC release.
Earlier this year Kellogg was forced to drop false health claims that Rice Krispies’ cereal could improve immunity. Kellogg had previously been criticized by the FTC for misleading claims that Frosted Mini Wheats could boost children’s attentiveness by 20%.