BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Recommends Exergen Modify Superior Performance Claims For Temporal Thermometers, Following Challenge By Kaz

 New York, New York – March 17 2011– The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Exergen Corp. modify superior performance claims for its temporal thermometers.

NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, reviewed print and Internet advertising claims made by Exergen following a challenge by KAZ USA, Inc., the maker of Braun ear thermometers. 

Claims at issue included:

  • “Tests show [the Exergen Temporal Scanner TAT-2000] is accurate to within +0.2°F – a much more accurate reading than taking the temperature any other way including oral, rectal, axillary (under the arm) and tympanic (in the ear).”
  • “Proven more accurate than ear thermometry.”
  • “More accurate than ear – Harvard Medical School study on infants”
  • “The Temporal Scanner has been proven more accurate than ear thermometers by a Harvard Medical School study.”

The challenger noted that it markets the only infrared ear thermometer series with a patented pre-warmed tip. The Braun ThermoScan IRT 4000 series thermometers are marketed for home use and the Braun Welch Allyn ThermoScan PRO 4000 series thermometers are intended for use by healthcare professionals. The Braun products directly compete with the advertiser’s Exergen Temporal Scanner TAT-5000 (for professional use) and TAT-2000 (for consumer use).

The advertiser explained that temporal thermometry is the newest form of non-invasive temperature measurement, measuring temperature on the skin’s surface of the temporal artery when it is swept across the forehead. The advertiser asserted that the technology has been widely recognized as accurate.

In this case, the advertiser claimed superior accuracy as compared to “ear thermometry” or “ear thermometers” without qualification and offered evidence in support of  the claim targeting a broader general audience, including adults.

(Full text of decision available to media upon request.)

NAD noted in its decision that many of the studies relied upon by the advertiser to support its claims failed to test the most recent generation of ear thermometry and compared temporal artery thermometers to oral, rectal or other thermometers. While such studies might support other performance claims for the advertiser’s temporal thermometer, they are insufficient to provide direct support for the advertiser’s superior accuracy claims regarding ear thermometers, NAD said.

Following its review of the evidence in the record, NAD concluded that the advertiser failed to provide a reasonable basis for unqualified claims of superior accuracy, directed to a general audience, for its TAT thermometers as compared to current competitive ear thermometry generally – including, but not limited to, the challenger’s pre-warmed tip Braun ThermoScan PRO 4000/IRT 4000 series.  

NAD found that the advertiser did provide a reasonable basis for a more limited comparative superiority claims when comparing its product to cold-tip ear thermometers used for infants and adults. NAD recommended the advertiser modify its claims to clearly and conspicuously disclose that the comparison being made is to cold-tip ear thermometry.

The company, in its advertiser’s statement, said that it disagrees “with NAD that there is any need to modify our superiority claims.  However, in the spirit of cooperation with the self-regulatory process, we will take NAD’s recommendations into account in future advertising.”