BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Determines Anheuser-Busch Can Support ‘Light’ Claim for ‘Michelob ULTRA Light Cider’

New York, NY – Feb. 5, 2013 – The National Advertising Division has determined that Anheuser-Busch, LLC, can support the claim that its Michelob ULTRA Light Cider has one-third fewer calories than an average of “the leading regular ciders.”

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

The advertiser in this case made the claim that its Light Cider has “1/3 less calories than an average of the leading regular hard ciders.”

As the advertiser noted, and NAD agreed, the claim adheres to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations for nutrient content claims under the FDA Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 (NLEA).

As an initial matter, NAD determined that it had jurisdiction to review the challenged claims.

NLEA sets forth regulations regarding the use of “light” claims as follows: A product may be described as “light” if, in relevant part, (1) the food derives less than 50 percent of its calories from fat and (2) the number of calories is reduced by at least one-third … compared to an appropriate reference food.” Claims that use “language mandated or expressly approved by federal law or regulation” do not fall within NAD’s jurisdiction.

NAD was not, however, examining whether the FDA definition of light was appropriate.   Rather, NAD asked the advertiser to provide support its claim that its product had one-third fewer calories than an average of the leading regular hard ciders.

In reviewing A-B’s support for its claims, NAD considered Michelob ULTRA Light Cider’s calorie content, the calorie content of the leading regular hard ciders, the market share of the leading regular hard ciders, and whether A-B’s claim provides meaningful and accurate information to consumers.

Following its review of the evidence in the record, NAD determined that the advertiser had provided a reasonable basis for the claim.

Anheuser-Busch, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “is pleased with NAD’s decision and appreciates NAD’s careful attention to the issues addressed.”