BBB National Programs Archive
NAD Recommends Born Free Discontinue Wide Range of Claims for ‘Born Free Bottle System’ Following Energizer Challenge
New York, New York – March 31, 2011– The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Born Free LLC discontinue certain advertising claims, including claims that the product minimizes or reduces colic and middle-ear infections.
NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, reviews claims made in print and Internet advertising and on product packaging for the Born Free Bottle System. The claims as issue were challenged by Energizer Personal Care LLC, the maker of manufacturer of competing Playtex Drop-Ins and VentAire Advanced Bottle Systems.
Claims at issue included:
- The Revolutionary BornFree Venting System The innovative air vent keeps a low level of vacuum which is known to help reduce colic symptoms such as gas and spit up.
- Reduces colic and middle ear infections.
- The unique inner valve prevents hard sucking and minimizes the risk of middle-ear infection.
- The unique BornFree venting system allows air to flow into the bottle and reduces the hard sucking that often leads to painful colic, gas and middle-ear infections.
- The Safe and Smart Bottle 100% Bisphenol-A free plastic
- Free From Bisphenol-A, Phthalates & PVC
- The low pressure inside BornFree bottle and cups is also medically acknowledged to reduce the risk of ear infections in babies and toddlers.
Key to NAD’s decision was whether certain of the advertiser’s claims were “mechanism of action” claims which could be supported by the design of the bottle itself, or whether such claims at issue were performance claims, which would require additional supporting evidence.
(Full text of NAD’s decision available to media upon request.)
The advertiser argued that its advertising addressed both the venting mechanism of its bottle and the intended result – the reduction of colic symptoms and middle ear infections – and contended that the claims were more likely to be interpreted by consumers as “mechanism of action’’ claims.
NAD noted that while properly stated mechanism of action claims may be supported by the functionality of a product’s design – assuming that the design in fact works as described and intended – in this case there was no evidence that demonstrated the product design worked to achieve either a reduction in colic or middle-ear infections.
NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue claims that its venting system, “keeps a low level of vacuum which is known to help reduce colic symptoms…”; “allows air to flow into the bottle and reduces the hard sucking that often leads to painful colic, gas and middle-ear infections”, “prevents hard sucking and minimizes the risk of middle-ear infection”, that its bottle “reduces colic and middle ear infections”, and that , “the low pressure inside BornFree bottle and cups is also medically acknowledged to reduce the risk of ear infections in babies and toddlers.”
Also at issue in NAD’s review were claims that that BornFree bottles are “The Safe and Smart Bottle” and “The Safe and Smart Feeding System” and “Free from Bisphenol-A, Pthalates & PVC”.
NAD observed that these claims appeared in close proximity to language that the BornFree line of bottles and cups “do not contain the harmful Bisphenol-A (BPA), Pthalates and PVC” and that, [a]according to research, BPA may cause developmental and neurological problems if it leaches from plastic…”
NAD determined that the advertiser’s claims could be interpreted by consumers as exclusivity claims – that BornFree bottles do not contain BPA and Pthalates while other brands do. However, NAD noted, the evidence in the record demonstrated that the majority of baby bottles do not contain BPA and Phthalates and have never contained PVC.
NAD found that the advertiser’s juxtaposition of its “BPA-Free” claims with the tag line “Born Free: The Safe and Smart Bottle/Feeding System” created an unsupported unique safety claim.
NAD determined that the advertiser was free to promote its product as “A Safe and Smart Choice,” rather than “The Safe and Smart Choice.” and recommended the advertiser avoid express or implied claims BPA is unsafe or harmful to children or infants who drink from bottles containing BPA, as no agency or regulatory authority to date has conclusively determined that BPA is, in fact, harmful.
NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim that its bottles are free of PVC as there is no evidence in the record that any baby bottles were ever manufactured incorporating PVC.
BornFree, Inc., in its advertiser’s statement, said that while the company “cannot agree with all of NAD’s conclusions,” the company has accepted and implemented the NAD’s recommendations in BornFree’s new advertising and packaging.”