BBB National Programs Archive

Bel Marra Health Discontinues Certain Claims for ‘Hearing Rescue’ Supplement During NAD Review; NAD Finds Certain Claims Supported

New York, NY – June 21, 2018 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Bel Marra Health discontinue certain claims for the company’s Hearing Rescue dietary supplement, including the claim that “vitamins and minerals such as folate and magnesium may help reduce the damage caused by repeated noise exposure.”

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

The claims at issue were challenged by the Council for Responsible Nutrition.

The advertiser contended that research suggests free radical compounds play a significant role in hearing damage and loss and that Hearing Rescue is formulated with antioxidants that include alpha lipoic acid, Vitamin E, ginkgo biloba extract and vinpocetine.

In addition to ingredient studies in humans, the advertiser relied upon animal studies and study abstracts to support claims that free radicals play a role in noise-related hearing impairment and that vitamins and minerals such as folate and magnesium may help reduce the damage caused by repeated noise exposure.

During the course of NAD’s review, the advertiser advised NAD that it would permanently discontinue the following claims:

  • “Improve the volume, range and sensitivity of your hearing”
  • “Relieve annoying ringing, whistling, and buzzing in the ears – starting in three weeks or less!”
  • “In a clinical study of participants with sudden hearing loss, a whopping 79.2% of patients experienced better hearing after taking this amazing hearing-booster”
  • “And two-thirds of patients saw a significant decrease in the ringing in their ears”
  • “In as little as 7 days you can start to see the difference”
  • Testimonial: “I’ve had hearing problems for the past 6 years…within a few weeks of taking Hearing Rescue, it helped me to hear sounds I haven’t heard in years.”

Given the advertiser’s representation, NAD did not review the claims on their merits. For compliance purposes, the voluntarily discontinued claims and testimonial will be treated as though NAD recommended the claims be discontinued and the advertiser agreed to comply.

The advertiser also said it had modified the following claims to make general antioxidant and nourishment claims:

  • “Boost circulation to the tiny capillaries in and around your auditory canal”
  • “Deliver the high potency, cell nourishing support to repair your inner ears”
  • “Fight the free radical damage that can harm your hearing cells”

For compliance purposes, the modified claims will be treated as though NAD recommended their modification and the advertiser agreed to comply.

NAD noted in its decision that while advertisers may make properly qualified claims based on ingredients in their supplements, those ingredients must be present in their products in the same amount, formulation and route of administration as the underlying ingredient studies.

The studies submitted by Bel Marra assessed individual ingredients in the product.   In all but one of the studies, the amount of the ingredient tested differed from the amount of the ingredient found in the product.  Without testing that the ingredients in the quantity found in Hearing Rescue have the claimed effect, the results from these studies cannot be used to support qualified claims that the same ingredients in the product reduce the damage caused by repeated noise exposure and improve hearing.

Following its review of the advertiser’s evidence, NAD determined that the claim “[s]ome evidence exists that suggests free radicals play a role in noise-related hearing impairment” was supported.

NAD determined that the advertiser’s claim that folate “provide[s] support in populations with low levels of folic acid” had a reasonable basis.

However, because many of the advertiser’s claims involve noise-related hearing loss, in order to avoid confusion, NAD further recommended that the advertiser modify its claim to indicate the study population on which the claim is based – individuals with age-related hearing loss.

Finally, NAD determined that the claims “Contains a combination of 9 vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients,” “Contains ingredients that possess antioxidant abilities,” and “Fortified with Ginkgo biloba extract and alpha lipoic acid” were supported.

Bel Marra, in its advertiser’s statement, said that while the company “disagrees with some of the NAD’s conclusions, we will agree to comply with the NAD’s recommendations. Implementation of the recommendations has begun.”

Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.