Probiotic sweetener claims rapped after McNeil complaint

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Probiotic, Ganeden biotech, Nad

For the second time in a month Illinois-based Heartland Sweeteners has been told by the National Advertising Division (NAD) its marketing is misleading – this time for a probiotic sweetener called Nevella with Probiotcs.

NAD – the advertising review division of the Council of Better Business – took issue with Nevella’s marketing, mainly because the science Heartland referenced in support of its gut and immune health claims was performed on individual ingredients and not the unique formulation of the product itself.

In its decision NAD stated: “…when 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. The claims must be clearly expressed as ingredient claims.”

It added: “…the product must be identical in composition and dosage to the ingredient proven efficacious in the studies.”

NAD said the lack of specific product testing was also problematic given typical uses for the sweeteners that included sweetening tea and coffee products, and for baking.

Efficacy debate

Heartland, was unavailable for comment at the time of publication, but Mike Bush, the vice president of business development at its probiotic supplier, Ganeden Biotech, said his company had data backing the probiotic’s use in hot beverages as well as some baked applications.

But this data had not been called on in the case due to the NAD’s focus on the end-product, rather than individual components.

In its defense Heartland said Nevella contained Ganeden’s BC30 strain​at doses (125m cells) that would deliver clinically proven efficacious levels of 500 million cells per day, disputing McNeil’s level of 800m.

This was, according to Heartland, “flawed reasoning would require it to have a study to support each and every dosage of probiotics that a consumer of Nevella with Probiotics may consume in order to support its claims.”

Bush said Heartland was altering its packaging and promotional materials although its website continued to carry immunity and gut health claims as of today.

Linda Bean, from the NAD, said company’s were given “a reasonable amount of time”​ to comply with the rulings.

Some of the disputed claims included:

  • “With Nevella with Probiotics, it’s easy to get the benefits of probiotics in your morning coffee or sprinkled on fruit or cereal”
  • “Provides digestive and immune system health benefits in every packet”
  • “Promotes digestive health”
  • “Supports a healthy immune system”
  • GanedenBC30 is ‘10 times more effective than yogurt in delivering live cells”

The last claim was backed by a disclaimer that stated: “In an independent lab study of a simulated gastric environment with a pH of 2.0 for two hours, GanedenBC30 delivered more than ten times the live cells than a leading probiotic yogurt.”


Last month Heartland lost an appeal to an NAD ruling that found it was making misleading claims that one of its Ideal sweeteners was, “more than 99 percent natural”​.

The complaint that sparked that ruling was bought by another sweetener player, Merisant Company, which took umbrage at the presence of synthetically manufactured sweeteners in the formulation that included xylitol, Unidex, a corn-derived dextrose filler, and sucralose.

Related topics: Regulation

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