BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Recommends Doskocil Discontinue Certain Anti-Microbial Claims for Petmate Cat Litter Pans, Advertiser to Appeal

New York, NY – May 8, 2018 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Doskocil Manufacturing Company, Inc., doing business as Petmate, discontinue challenged advertising claims for the company’s Petmate Cat Litter Pans, including claims that the pans have “built-in antimicrobial protection.” The advertiser said it would appeal NAD’s adverse findings to the National Advertising Review Board (NARB).

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 claims at issue, which appeared on product packaging and in product descriptions on websites, were challenged by Van Ness Plastic Molding Company.

The challenged claims included:

  • “Inhibits Bacteria Growth”
  • “With Continuous Antimicrobial Protection”
  • “With Built-In Antimicrobial Protection”
  • “With Built-In Antimicrobial Product Protection*”
    • (*This product does not protect users or others against disease-causing bacteria.”)
  • “Inhibits the Growth of Odor-Causing Bacteria on the Pan.”

The advertiser contended that Microban, the antimicrobial ingredient in Petmate Cat Litter Pans, is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency for use as an antimicrobial active ingredient on products such as plastics.

Petmate argued that its labeling claims “With Built-In Antimicrobial Product Protection” and “inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria on the pan” were literally true. Petmate contended that the claims clearly communicated to consumers that its products containing an antimicrobial agent – Microban – protected the litter pans from odor-causing bacteria, thereby qualifying for the Treated Article Exemption under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. Petmate further argued that product testing wasn’t necessary because the ingredient Microban had been tested.

The antimicrobial properties of Microban were not in dispute. NAD noted, however, that contrary to the advertiser’s position, the fact that a product has been treated with or contains an EPA-registered pesticide does not, by itself, substantiate its specific product performance claim. Product testing, NAD said, would be necessary to provide a reasonable basis for claims that the advertiser’s litter pans provided the claimed antimicrobial protection.

NAD noted its appreciation that the advertiser voluntarily discontinued its original and previously revised label claims – including but not limited to, “Microban helps prevent the growth of stain and odor causing bacteria,” “INHIBITS BACTERIA GROWTH” and “WITH CONTINUOUS ANTIMICROBIAL PROTECTION.” – and its willingness to promptly discard all original labels.

NAD concluded, however, that the evidence in the record did not provide a reasonable basis for the advertiser’s antimicrobial protection claims and recommended that “With Built-In Antimicrobial Protection,” “Inhibits the Growth of Odor-Causing Bacteria on the Pan” and other related claims be discontinued.

Petmate, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “strongly disagrees with NAD’s decision, stands by its claims and will appeal NAD’s decision to the NARB.”

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.