The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has charged Gerber Products Company for with wrongly promoting the potential health benefits of its baby product in a advertisement.
The US officials on Thursday charged the company with falsely advertising the health benefits of Good Start Gentle baby formula.
In a statement, Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said, “Parents trusted Gerber to tell the truth about the health benefits of its formula and the company’s ads failed to live up to that trust.”
A complaint registered with the FTC said that Gerber has been claiming since 2011 that its Good Start Gentle baby formula holds the potential to reduce or even prevent the risk of developing allergies.
The lawsuit by FTC was filed on Wednesday in the US District Court for the District of New Jersey.
The FTC said the complaint showed that Gerber has been promoting its formula, which is developed with partially hydrolyzed whey proteins, by saying that it is easier to digest in comparison to the formula that used intact cow’s milk protein.
Meanwhile, the Nestlé SA-owned firm said that their claims are based on extensive and peer-reviewed scientific evidence which ascertains that its infant formula reduces the risk of baby eczema in infants having a family history of allergies.
Expressing discontent over the decision, Gerber’s general counsel Kevin Goldberg said, “We are disappointed with the FTC’s decision to file a complaint against Gerber Products Company for its marketing of Gerber Good Start infant formula. We are defending our position because we believe we have met and will continue to meet all legal requirements to make these product claims.”
Gerber had sought approval from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 2005 for a claim extolling the health benefits of the partially hydrolyzed whey protein and the lowered food allergies risk. But the federal health body had denied that request.
The company had again in 2009 sought permission for a qualified health claim for a lowered atopic dermatitis risk, generally known as baby eczema.
The complaint said that the federal health body had allowed Gerber to make the narrow claim but only if the company made it clear that there is “little scientific evidence” to support it.
The complaint mainly points to specific advertisements including a television commercial in which an announcer says, “You want your Gerber baby to have your imagination…Your smile…Your eyes…Not your allergies.”
The complaint also mention about a print advertisement depicting a baby’s face saying, “I love Mommy’s eyes, not her allergies.”