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Originally published May 25 2010

Heinz blasted over outrageous claims in infant formula ads

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The H.J. Heinz company, most famous for producing Heinz brand ketchup, has been reprimanded by the United Kingdom's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over an ad for its Nurture-brand infant formula.

According to the ASA, Heinz made "unsubstantiated" and "unacceptable" claims that its product could support the growth of infant brains, bodies and immune systems.

The ad, produced by the Abbot Mead Vickers BBDO agency, stated that each child needs a "special combination of nutrients to sustain the incredible growth in its brain, body and immune system." It then went on to state that Heinz had produced Nurture specifically in order to "provide for those three essential aspects of growth."

The commercial concluded by saying that Nurture would help "nourish, protect and develop your baby."

Three complaints were submitted to the ASA claiming that there was insufficient scientific evidence to support Heinz's claims regarding immunity and child development. When questioned by the ASA, Heinz claimed that the inclusion of iron, prebiotics and nucleotides would "protect" the immune system, omega-3s and omega-6s would help children's brains and eyes "develop," and milk protein and calcium would provide nourishment.

The ASA rejected these claims, ruling that the commercial falsely implied specific health benefits rather than general nutritional content.

"We concluded, therefore, that the claim was unsubstantiated and the ad was unacceptable," the ASA said.

The decision follows a similar case in October, in which French company Danone claimed in ads that its probiotic-fortified yogurt drink Actimel was "scientifically proven to help support your kids' defenses." The ASA also rejected this ad.

Christine Haigh of the Children's Food Campaign expressed concern over the prevalence of unsubstantiated health claims in ads for children's food products.

"We believe the Food Standards Agency needs to investigate how widespread this practice is," she said.

For example, Gerber has recently begun marketing baby food in the United States in packaging claiming that the product "helps support brain and eye development."

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