NAD Finds Certain Zarbee’s Claims Clearly Identify Honey as The Source of the Cough Soothing Benefit in its Cough Products; Recommends Modification of Others

For Immediate Release
Contact: Abby Hills, Director of Communications, BBB National Programs

703.247.9330 / press@bbbnp.org

New York, NY – April 15, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs determined that certain advertising claims made by Zarbee’s, Inc. for its cough products sufficiently identify that honey is the source of the cough soothing benefit and would not reasonably mislead consumers as to the reason for the product’s cough soothing efficacy. However, NAD recommended modification of other claims to make clear that the cough soothing benefit is attributable to the honey and not the combination of main ingredients.

The claims at issue, which appeared on product packaging, website advertising, third-party retailer websites, and on social media, were challenged by Maty’s Healthy Products, LLC.

Both the advertiser and challenger sell honey-based cough relief products, including lozenges, cough syrups, and related products. The honey in Zarbee’s products is the ingredient that provides the cough soothing benefit. At issue before NAD was whether Zarbee’s claims, as they appear in the context of the challenged advertising, accurately convey that the cough relief efficacy of the products is properly attributed to their honey content and not to the whole product formulation. The overall efficacy of the products was not at issue in this matter.

 

NAD determined that certain claims sufficiently identify for consumers that honey is the source of the cough soothing benefit or are not likely to convey to consumers that ingredients other than honey provide the claimed cough benefit. 

 

Therefore, NAD concluded that the following claims do not mislead consumers as to why the product is efficacious:

  • The “Honey Cough Soothers” product labels and the claim therein, “Soothes Coughs Associated with Hoarseness, Dry Throat and Irritants.”
  • The claim “[a] safe and delicious way to soothe your cough from hoarseness, dry throats, and irritants,” on the website tile for “99% Honey Cough Soothers.”
  • The claim on Walmart’s website, “Zarbee’s Naturals 99% Honey Cough Soothers calm and soothe sore throats and coughs associated with hoarseness, dry throat, and irritants. Made with 99% honey, these soothing drops feature a natural lemon flavor that you’ll love!”
  • The claim on CVS’s website, “Zarbee’s Naturals 99% Honey Cough Soothers ease your child’s throat and calm coughs associated with hoarseness, dry throat, and irritants. Made with 99% honey, these soothing drops feature a delicious natural cherry flavor.”
  • The claim “Soothes coughs associated with hoarseness, dry throat, and irritants,” on the labels of “Cough Syrup Dark Honey” and “Children’s Cough Syrup Dark Honey.”
  • The claim “[s]oothes throats while peacefully promoting sleep,” on the website tile for “Children’s Nighttime Cough Syrup Dark Honey.”
  • The claim “Zarbee’s Naturals Children’s Cough Syrup with Dark Honey soothes coughs associated with hoarseness, dry throat & irritants . . . this formula features vitamin C & zinc to help support immune systems . . . contains melatonin . . . to help promote restful sleep,” on CVS’s website.
  • The claim “[s]oothes sore throats” on Walgreen’s webpage for Zarbee’s “Children’s Cough Syrup Natural Grape Flavor.”
  • The claim for Zarbee’s “Children’s Cough Syrup,” “[s]oothes coughs associated with hoarseness, dry throat and irritants,” in the context in which it is presented on iHerb’s website.
  • The claim “with dark honey & elderberry. Soothes coughs associated with hoarseness, dry throat and irritants” on Zarbee’s “Complete Cough Syrup + Immune” product.
  • The claim “[a] bedtime drink supplement to soothe your irritated throat and lull you to sleep” on the website tile for Zarbee’s “Cough & Throat Relief Nighttime Supplement.”
  • The challenged social media post featuring a related product—"Cough & Throat Relief + Mucus.”

 

 

However, NAD determined that certain claims could reasonably convey the message that the cough soothing effect was attributable to the multi-ingredient product as a whole or did not make clear that the claimed benefit comes from the honey. NAD recommended that the following claims be modified to make clear that the cough soothing benefit is attributable to the product’s honey:

  • The claim “[a] delicious and safe way to soothe your cough while also supporting your immune system,” on the website tile featuring “96% Honey Cough Soothers + Immune Support.”
  • The claim “with dark honey & elderberry. Soothes coughs associated with hoarseness, dry throat and irritants” on the labels for Zarbee’s “Complete Nighttime Cough Syrup + Immune,” and the related children’s products “Complete Cough Syrup + Immune—Dark Honey & Elderberry” and “Nighttime Complete Cough Syrup + Immune—Dark Honey & Elderberry.”
  • The claim “[s]oothes coughs associated with hoarseness, dry throat and irritants while delivering immune support” on the website tile for “Complete Cough Syrup + Immune.”
  • The claim “[s]oothes coughs associated with hoarseness, dry throat and irritants while delivering immune support and promoting sleep” on the website tile for “Complete Nighttime Cough Syrup + Immune.”
  • The claim “[s]oothe[s] coughs associated with hoarseness, dry throat and irritants” on website tiles featuring different packaging for “Complete Cough Syrup + Immune” and “Complete Cough Syrup + Immune Nighttime.”
  • The claim “[s]oothes coughs associated with hoarseness, dry throat and irritants while promoting peaceful sleep,” in the context of the website tile for Zarbee’s “Cough Syrup + Mucus Nighttime.”
  • The claim “[s]oothes coughs associated with hoarseness, dry throat and irritants” on the website tiles for “Children’s Cough Syrup + Mucus” and “Children’s Nighttime Cough Syrup + Mucus.”

 

Finally, NAD determined that the claim “soothe your cough at the first sign of a tickle,” in the context of the Amazon page for Zarbee’s “Cough Syrup + Mucus,” may attribute the product’s cough soothing benefit to more than the product’s honey. Therefore, NAD recommended that Zarbee’s try to have the page modified to make clear that the cough soothing benefit is attributable to the honey in the product and not the formulation of honey and other ingredients.

In its advertiser statement, Zarbee’s stated that it “agrees to comply with NAD’s recommendations.” While the advertiser noted its disappointment with some of NAD’s findings, it stated that “we support the self-regulatory process and will take NAD’s recommendations into account in our future advertising.”

All BBB National Programs case decision summaries can be found in the case decision library. For the full text of NAD, NARB, and CARU decisions, subscribe to the online archive.

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About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. The non-profit organization creates a fairer playing field for businesses and a better experience for consumers through the development and delivery of effective third-party accountability and dispute resolution programs. Embracing its role as an independent organization since the restructuring of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in June 2019, BBB National Programs today oversees more than a dozen leading national industry self-regulation programs, and continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-directed marketing, and privacy. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.

About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs provides independent self-regulation and dispute resolution services, guiding the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for advertising truth and accuracy, delivering meaningful protection to consumers and leveling the playing field for business.  

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