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NAD Case: Sustainability & Clean Ingredient Substantiation

We can learn a lot from NAD cases

NAD Case: Sustainability & Clean Ingredient Substantiation

This company was making claims related to sustainability, “clean ingredients,” and efficacy. This is a really interesting case that we can learn a lot from!

The National Advertising Division (NAD) is a great place to look for case law regarding substantiation requirements. Here, I review a recent NAD monitoring case against a cosmetic and flavor ingredient company.

Clean Ingredients

Here is the claim challenged by NAD. “Clean ingredients and clean formulas – we ban over 2000 ingredients that are known to be toxic to you and the environment.”

  • NAD’s finding: “NAD found that it is not clear whether the over 2,000 ingredients … does not use in its products are associated with cosmetic products. Therefore, NAD recommended modifying the claim specifying banned ingredients typically used in cosmetic products.”

Asa comments: This shows that if a product does not typically contain an ingredient, stating that the product is free of an unlikely ingredient may be misleading. Do you think this applies to labeling a product “no soy” if it’s very unlikely to contain soy?

Sustainability Claims

Here is the claim challenged by NAD. “Keeping 2 million sharks every year safe from liver harvesting.” To substantiate this claim, the company provided data regarding an estimated number of sharks killed and an estimate of the global demand for shark liver oil; however, this was insufficient to provide a reliable number.

  • NAD’s finding: “NAD recommended that the claim be discontinued or modified to avoid referring to a numerical figure. NAD noted that nothing in its decision prevents …. from making a more general claim that sharks are not harvested for squalane found in (its) products.”

Asa comments: Numerical claims require increased substantiation and should be avoided unless there is firm supporting data.

Here is another numerical claim example.

  • Challenged claim and NAD’s findings: “All of our ingredients are also ethically and sustainably sourced,” NAD determined that while … Supplier Code of Conduct might demonstrate its commitment to ensuring that ingredients are ethically and sustainably sourced, it does not demonstrate that all ingredients are, in fact, ethically and sustainably sourced.

Asa comments: I wonder if the code of conduct would have substantiated a “some of our ingredients” statement.

Efficacy Claim

NAD challenged this efficacy claim: “(ingredient) locks in weightless moisture, calms and protects, and improves elasticity.”

  • NAD’s findings: “(The company) relied on three studies that assessed the impact of squalane, in the form and range of the amount found in the … products, on these objectively measurable attributes.”

Asa comments: This shows how important it is to have comparable studies. For example, if the studies were conducted using different forms and dosages, they may not have been sufficient for substantiation.

This is a slightly shorter WLW than normal as I am celebrating my wife’s birthday Tuesday night, so no staying up late for me.

Read the NAD case here.

Disclaimer: The educational information provided here is for informational purposes only. Contact an attorney for specific legal advice. Rule #1 in compliance is to ensure marketing is truthful and not misleading.

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