National Advertising Division Finds Glee Gum’s “Plastic-Free” Claim Supported; Recommends “Made with Chicle,” Unqualified “Natural” Claims be Discontinued
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New York, NY – June 7, 2022 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs determined that Mazee, LLC provided a reasonable basis for claims that its Glee Gum is “plastic-free.” However, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue:
- Claims that the gum base of Glee Gum is “made with chicle”;
- Unqualified natural claims (“natural”, “all-natural,” “100% natural”), as well as its “plant-based” claims; and
- Unqualified “eco-friendly” claims.
During the proceeding, the advertiser permanently discontinued and modified several challenged claims. NAD did not review the discontinued claims or pre-modification claims on the merits. The challenge was brought by Perfetti Van Melle USA, Inc.
“Made with Chicle” Claims
Chicle, a natural gum for use in gum base, is the coagulated latex (or sap) of the Manilkara Zapota tree, also known as the Sapodilla tree or, in Mexico where chicle is mainly harvested, as the Chicozapote tree.
NAD concluded that the advertiser did not meet its burden to substantiate its claims that the gum base of Glee Gum is “made with chicle” and recommended that the claims be discontinued, including:
- “Gum base made with Chicle”
- “Ingredients: … Gum Base (Chicle, candellilla wax, citric acid)…”
- “Made with chicle, a tree sap harvested, it’s a plastic-free gum base.”
- “After years of research, we were so excited to debut our new gum base recipe in the summer of 2015. And, and we remain proud of it today. It’s 100% natural, made predominantly of chicle with just three additional, natural ingredients: candelilla wax, and a pinch of dehydrated citrus peels.”
- “The key ingredient to Glee Gum is chicle. Glee Gum is actually one of the only gums in the United States made with chicle.”
“Natural” and “Plant-Based” Claims
NAD determined that one message reasonably conveyed by the advertiser’s unqualified “natural” and “plant-based” claims is that both the edible components and gum base of Glee Gum are “natural.” Therefore, as noted by NAD, the advertiser’s evidence would need to support this message by showing that the product is natural and plant-based, including its gum base that makes the product function as chewing gum.
NAD concluded that the advertiser’s evidence does not provide a reasonable basis for the challenged claims and recommended that they be discontinued, including:
- “Natural Chewing Gum.”
- “Glee is plant-based through and through.”
- “Glee Gum is a delicious natural chewing gum… Made with chicle gum base Glee Gum is the natural choice for you.”
- “Natural Chewing Gum. Glee Gum is an all-natural chewing gum.”
- “100% Natural. Glee Gum is an [sic.] natural chewing gum made without preservatives, artificial flavorings, colorings, or sweeteners…Plus, Glee Gum has the distinction of using natural chicle in its gum base.”
- “You should buy Glee Gum if you are looking for natural delicious chewing gum.”
Although NAD expressed concern about the presence of synthetic substances in the gum base, NAD noted that nothing in its decision prevents the advertiser from making appropriately qualified natural or plant-based ingredient claims for other parts of the gum, provided that such claims are properly supported and do not imply that the gum base is natural.
Perfetti challenged several claims that Glee Gum is “plastic-free,” including:
- “Plant Based and Plastic Free.”
- “Plastic Free.”
- “Glee Gum uses only plastic-free gum base.”
- “All-natural Plastic-Free gum base delicious chewing gum.”
- Implied: Conventional chewing gum is made of plastic and therefore junk-filled and unsafe for human consumption.
- Implied: Conventional chewing gum is made of plastic and therefore contains phthalates which are associated with health risks and early death.
NAD considered the messages reasonably conveyed by these challenged claims and did not find that they communicated any implied comparative or falsely denigrating messages versus conventional chewing gum. Further, NAD concluded that the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for its “plastic-free” claims based on the results of its testing.
NAD determined that the advertiser’s unqualified “eco-friendly” claims reasonably conveyed the message that Glee Gum is broadly environmentally friendly – a message that is not supported by the evidence in the record.
Therefore, NAD recommended that the claims be discontinued, including:
- “Glee Gum is a natural eco-friendly plastic-free gum base delicious chewing gum.”
- “Eco-Friendly Too!”
- Implied: Glee Gum is better, healthier, safer, and more eco-friendly than conventional chewing gum.
NAD noted that nothing in its decision prevents the advertiser from modifying the claims to use qualifying language which limits it to a specific benefit or benefits (e.g., compostable pouches, recyclable box), provided that such claims are properly supported.
In its advertiser statement, Mazee stated that it “respectfully disagrees with NAD’s conclusions,” and expressed its belief that the challenged claims are supported, but that it “will comply with NAD’s decision.”
The challenger, Perfetti, is appealing the decision related to the “plastic-free” claims.
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