The NAD recently ruled in favor of Perfetti Van Melle USA, Inc., against Mazee, LLC, maker of Glee Gum, over claims that Glee Gum was “all natural.” This decision underscores the importance of substantiating advertising claims where “natural” and “eco” are concerned. Competitors and consumers increasingly bring actions related to claims about “natural,” “green,” and related claims, and regulatory agencies’ rulings are becoming more specific as to standards.
Glee Gum is advertised as an “eco-gum” made from chicle, a tree sap that is harvested in rainforests in Central America. Mazee supplier information and carbon-14 testing showed that Glee Gum is 94% chicle; the other 6% is candelilla wax and citric acid. Perfetti argued that the supplier information does not show chicle is an ingredient because the CAS Registry Number Mazee used to identify “Chicle Tree Sap” is not the CAS Registry Number of chicle. Perfetti also disputed the results of Mazee’s carbon-14 tests, saying that they do not prove the gum base in Glee Gum contains chicle, but only provide information of whether the carbon in Glee Gum is plant- or fossil-based.
The express claims made by Glee included, but were not limited to:
- “Natural chewing gum.”
- “Plastic Free.”
- “Most gum brands use plastic in their gum base. Not Glee. We use chicle, a tree sap sustainably harvested from the rainforests of Central America.”
- “Glee is plant-based through and through; change what you chew.”
- “Plant-Based and Plastic-Free.”
- “Made with chicle.”
Perfetti submitted evidence from two analysts suggesting that Glee Gum did not contain chicle and suggested that the gum contains synthetic materials. Based on that evidence, and concerns about the nonexistent CAS registry number Mazee cited, the NAD ruled that Mazee should modify and substantiate its “natural” claims for the gum.
All claims must be fully substantiated, but particularly when claiming products are “all natural,” advertisers can end up on the wrong side of a lawsuit or regulatory action. This NAD ruling further defines how much information must be disclosed regarding ingredients. MMR Strategy Group has extensive experience in conducting advertising claim substantiation surveys. Contact us for a consultation.