NAD Refers Advertising Claims for Little Spoon Baby Food to FDA and FTC for Further Review After Company Declines to Comply with NAD’s Recommendations
For Immediate Release
New York, NY – May 27, 2020 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) has referred online advertising claims made by Little Spoon, Inc. for its Little Spoon Baby Food to the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for further review after the company declined to comply with NAD’s recommendations to discontinue certain “fresh” claims.
NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is a division of the BBB National Programs’ self-regulatory and dispute resolution programs. The claims at issue were challenged by Plum Organics, PBC, a brand owned by Campbell Soup Company (Plum), and included:
- Fresh claims: “Fresh baby food, delivered”; “Get organic fresh food”; “it’s fresh, baby”; “Little spoon is amazing because not only is it easy, but it is fresh food. . .”; “Learn why fresh matters”; “Ready to feed Fresh”; “GET FRESH”; “Let’s keep it fresh”; “Fresh baby food”; and “#itsfreshbaby.”
- “The first two years of your baby’s life are the most critical time to ensure they are getting the right nutrition to support their rapid growth and development. The current baby food options are falling short. Baby food on grocery shelves is processed so heavily that it can last for years, and, as a result, has little nutritional value by the time it gets to your baby’s belly.”
- “Did you know that baby food in jars and pouches is typically older than your baby? (Gross right?!).”
- The long shelf life of store-bought baby food makes it unsafe and unhealthy.
The advertiser’s product is an organic, refrigerated baby food product. It is shipped to consumers who are advised to have babies consume it within fourteen days. The challenger manufactures a line of store-bought, shelf-stable organic baby food. The challenged advertising consists of littlespoon.com website advertising, a YouTube video that also appears on its website, Little Spoon’s Twitter profile, and claims on a website operated by Little Spoon: nomoreoldbabyfood.com.
With regard to the advertiser’s “fresh” claims, NAD accorded substantial weight and deference to the FDA’s definition of “fresh,” as well as prior NAD and NARB precedent, which have all recognized that reasonable consumers are likely to interpret “fresh” as meaning that a food is unprocessed (i.e. that the food in its raw state has not been subjected to any form of thermal processing). However, Little Spoon’s baby food products undergo a form of processing called high pressure processing (“HPP”) and certain ingredients in the advertiser’s products have been subjected to thermal processing, which the advertiser characterized as a “gentle cooking” method. NAD noted that the challenged advertising makes repeated references to “fresh” juxtaposed with freshness imagery such as depictions of fresh fruits and vegetables tumbling into the product containers and on the product packaging itself. NAD determined that consumers are likely to take away the inaccurate message from the advertiser’s use of “fresh” that its Little Spoon products are unprocessed, when its products are actually subject to high pressure processing and heat treatment. Therefore, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its claims: “Fresh baby food, delivered”; “Get organic fresh food”; “it’s fresh, baby”; “Little spoon is amazing because not only is it easy, but it is fresh food. . .”; “Learn why fresh matters”; “Ready to feed Fresh”; “GET FRESH”; “Let’s keep it fresh”; “Fresh baby food”; and “#itsfreshbaby.”
NAD also recommended that the advertiser discontinue its comparative advertising claims in both the challenged video and on its website, including, but not limited to, its claims: “The current baby food options are falling short. Baby food on grocery shelves is processed so heavily that it can last for years, and, as a result, has little nutritional value by the time it gets to your baby’s belly,” and “Did you know that baby food in jars and pouches is typically older than your baby? (Gross right?!),” and its URL label, nomoreoldbabyfood.com. NAD determined that one message reasonably conveyed by the challenged advertising, including a video featured on Little Spoon’s website, is that shelf-stable baby food products available at grocery stores are of little or no nutritional value, “stale” or otherwise unsuitable for consumption or unpalatable – claims that are unsupported by the record. NAD noted that no evidence was provided by the advertiser to show that grocery store baby food has compromised nutritional value, and, in fact, the challenger provided unrebutted evidence to demonstrate that its products contain key nutrients.
Finally, NAD cautioned the advertiser to avoid any implication that shelf-stable grocery store baby food is nutritionally deficient, “old,” “stale,” unsuitable for consumption by babies or unpalatable, or may impede a baby’s growth and development.
Little Spoon, in its advertiser’s statement, said it disagreed with NAD’s findings that “references to the freshness of Little Spoon products are inappropriate” and does not agree to comply with all of NAD’s recommendations. Considering the advertiser’s decision, NAD has referred the matter to the attention of the appropriate government agency for possible enforcement action.
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