National Advertising Division (NAD)
BBB National Programs National Advertising Division Recommends Discontinuation of Product Performance and Health-Related “On The Go” Claims for Vital Proteins Collagen Peptide Single Use Dietary Supplement Stick Packs
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Brett, Director, NAD
212.705.0109 / firstname.lastname@example.org
New York, NY – Jan. 23, 2020 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) has recommended that Vital Proteins LLC discontinue certain product performance and health-related advertising claims which appeared in an Instagram post for the company’s Vital Proteins Collagen Peptide Products dietary supplements. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptide products come in powder form and can be added to cold or hot liquids. The Vital Proteins product featured in the Instagram post which is the subject of this inquiry was an individual stick (one serving) which contains only one ingredient - 10 grams of collagen peptides derived from bovine hide.
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.
As part of is routine monitoring program, NAD requested substantiation for the express claim “Perfect for on-the-go, each pack contains 10g of collagen for healthy hair, skin, nails, bones, joints and gut,” and for the implied claim that 10g of collagen consumed as a drink provides consumers meaningful anti-aging benefits in the form of stronger and healthier hair, skin, bones, joints and digestion. NAD noted that while many of the attributes in the advertiser’s express claim are health-related (healthy bones, joints), others are not (healthy skin and nails). Product performance claims must be supported by reliable testing conducted on the product itself, and health-related claims require support in the form of competent and reliable scientific evidence.
NAD determined that the evidence in the record did not support the claim “Perfect for on-the-go, each pack contains 10g of collagen for healthy hair, skin, nails, bones, joints and gut,” and the implied claim that 10g of collagen consumed as a drink provides consumers meaningful anti-aging benefits in the form of stronger and healthier hair, skin, bones, joints and digestion and recommended that they be discontinued.
During the pendency of NAD’s inquiry, the advertiser represented in writing that it had elected to permanently discontinue the express claims related to gut health (and, by extension, the reference to “digestion” in the implied claim). NAD, relying on the advertiser’s representations that these claims have been permanently discontinued, did not review the claims on their merits. However, the voluntarily discontinued claims will be treated, for compliance purposes, as though NAD recommended their discontinuance and the advertiser agreed to comply.
As for the healthy hair claims, NAD had a number of concerns with the study submitted by the advertiser, including the fact that it did not test bovine collagen found in the Vital Proteins products, the dose of gelatin consumed by the test subjects does not correspond to the dose of the product in question, and the study included an irrelevant test population. Thus, NAD determined that the study was not sufficiently reliable to support the claim that Vital Proteins provides noticeably healthy hair. NAD also determined that a study assessing the impact of collagen on hair in mice did not provide reliable support for claims relating to the impact of collagen peptides in humans.
With regard to the healthy skin claims, NAD noted that many of the studies relied upon by the advertiser tested amounts of collagen peptides that were lower than what was found in the actual product. The advertiser relied on two clinical moisture studies (in Japan and France) that assessed the impact of porcine and marine collagen peptides on skin hydration and the integrity of the collagen dermal network as a result of supplementation, respectively. There was also an ex vivo study assessing the mechanism of action by which collagen peptides confer moisturizing benefits. NAD had a number of concerns with these studies, including, for example, that the clinical studies tested fish collagen peptides which have not been demonstrated to be substantially similar to bovine collagen for extrapolation purposes. NAD determined that these studies were not sufficiently reliable or a good fit to demonstrate that Vital Proteins when taken as directed confers noticeably healthier skin. Further, NAD concluded that a supplier-commissioned bovine collagen study was not sufficiently reliable to demonstrate that Vital Proteins when taken as directed confers noticeably healthy skin.
In support of the claim that Vital Proteins produces healthier nails, the advertiser relied on four studies. However, two of the studies were conducted on individuals with brittle nail syndrome and one study was on individuals with various nail syndromes (e.g., psoriatic nails, congenital nail deformities). NAD noted that the challenged advertisement is not targeted to individuals with nail diseases such as brittle nail syndrome. Therefore, studies on irrelevant populations have no bearing on the claims at issue. The fourth study – which was also conducted on individuals with brittle nail syndrome – assessed 2.5 grams of Verisol, a different form of collagen than that found in Vital Proteins, and at a lower dose. NAD concluded that the benefits seen with Verisol cannot be attributed to the collagen proteins in Vital Proteins. Thus, NAD determined that the studies referenced by the advertiser are not sufficiently reliable to support the noticeably healthier nail claims.
With regard to the healthy bone and joint claims, the advertiser relied on the results of several clinical studies. NAD noted that qualified ingredient claims require support in the form of studies assessing those ingredients in the same amount, formulation and route of administration as the product itself. Thus, NAD determined that the Benito-Ruiz Study, while otherwise methodologically sound, is not a good fit to support claims relating to the efficacy of the challenged products on joints because it did not assess the collagen found in the Vital Proteins product (rather, it assessed the efficacy of the collagen hydrolysate). Further, NAD determined that the Kumar Study, which demonstrated that individuals with knee osteoarthritis who consume 10g of bovine collagen peptides per day will feel less joint discomfort, does not support the claim that Vital Proteins confers “healthy joints” given that the study population is not “healthy.” NAD also concluded that other studies – one of which administered a combination treatment instead of collagen peptides alone, and another which assessed a non-relevant study population – were not sufficiently reliable to support the claim that Vital Proteins confers a noticeable benefit to or promotes healthy bones and joints.
In its advertiser’s statement, Vital Proteins stated that it will comply with NAD’s recommendations. The advertiser further stated that it took issue with NAD’s findings, but “nonetheless, due to its respect for NAD and the self-regulatory process, Vital Proteins will permanently discontinue its ‘on the go’ claim and will otherwise take NAD’s recommendations into account in its future advertising.”
About the National Advertising Division: National Advertising Division (NAD), a division of BBB National Programs, provides independent self-regulation overseeing the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for truth and accuracy.
About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs fosters trust, innovation, and competition in the marketplace through the development and delivery of cost-effective, third-party self-regulation, dispute resolution and other programs. The programs were formerly administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. BBB National Programs is the home of industry self-regulatory and dispute resolution programs that include the National Advertising Division (NAD), National Advertising Review Board (NARB), BBB EU Privacy Shield, BBB AUTO LINE, Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), Children’s Confection Advertising Initiative (CCAI), Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC), Digital Advertising Accountability Program (Accountability Program), and the Coalition for Better Advertising Dispute Resolution Program (CBA DRM). The programs are designed to resolve business issues and advance shared objectives by responding to marketplace concerns to create a better customer experience. To learn more about industry self-regulation, please visit: BBBNP.org.