BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Finds Jelly Belly can Support ‘Clinically Proven’ Claims for ‘Sports Beans,’ Recommends Company Discontinue a Formulation Claim

New York, NY – Feb. 6, 2017 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that the Jelly Belly Candy Company discontinue claims that the company’s Jelly Belly Sports Bean Energizing Jelly Beans are “Scientifically Formulated to Maximize Sports Performance.”

However, NAD found that the advertiser could support claims that the product is “clinically proven” to maximize sports performance.

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

NAD opened its inquiry as part of its ongoing monitoring program and in conjunction with an initiative with the Council for Responsible Nutrition to expand the review of advertising claims for dietary supplements.

NAD asked the advertiser to provide substantiation for claims that included:

  • “Clinically proven to maximize sports performance, each bean is loaded with carbs for fuel, electrolytes to help maintain fluid balance and vitamins to optimize energy release and protect cells against oxidative damage.  Made with natural flavors, real fruit juices and they come in a convenient resealable bag that you will love.”
  • “Scientifically Formulated to Maximize Sports Performance:
    • Carbohydrates to fuel your body during intense activity
    • Electrolytes (sodium and potassium) vital for maintaining fluid balance
    • Vitamins B1, B2 & B3 to help burn carbohydrates and fat
    • Vitamin C to protect muscles and cells against oxidative damage.
  • “Sports Beans Energizing Jelly Beans are formulated to help fuel the body during intense exercise.”

According to the advertiser, the target audience for the product, promoted as a “first-of-its-kind carbohydrate replenishment for sports performance,” includes endurance cyclists and runners.  The advertiser explained that the challenged claims were based on a published clinical study performed at the University of California, Davis. Following its review, NAD noted some reservations about the methodology, but said that it appreciated certain aspects of the study, including the use of an appropriate test population and adequate number of subjects and consumption of the sports beans in accordance with the use instructions.

NAD determined that the advertiser could support its “clinically proven” claim.

NAD examined the product’s ingredients, which include carbohydrates, electrolytes, Vitamins B1-B3 and Vitamin C, as it evaluated the advertiser’s formulation claims. NAD reviewed the advertiser’s evidence on the role of carbohydrates and hydration during exercise and noted that there is substantial agreement among experts that B-vitamins play a role in converting food into energy in the body and that Vitamin C is an antioxidant that offers protection against free radical damage. NAD determined that the claim “Sports Beans Energizing Jelly Beans are formulated to help fuel the body during intense exercise” was supported.

However, NAD noted that the advertiser did not submit any ingredient studies showing that the amounts of the ingredients in Jelly Belly Sports Bean Energizing Jelly Beans would confer a measurable or optimal performance benefit for endurance athletes.   In the absence of such evidence, NAD recommended that advertiser discontinue the claim “Scientifically Formulated to Maximize Sports Performance.”

Jelly Belly Candy Company said in its advertiser’s statement that it will comply with NAD’s recommendations. The company did say, however, that it respectfully disagrees that endurance athletes will interpret the statement “Scientifically Formulated to Maximize Sports Performance” to mean that the amounts of specific nutrients “have been proven to confer a measurable or optimal benefit. Jelly Belly has not made such a statement, and endurance athletes are sophisticated in their understanding of nutritional information.”

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.