Health Inc.

Nestle Pulls Health Claims From Kids' Drink After Feds Object

Girl inside straw of Nestle drink: Boost Kid Essentials

Here's an ad cited by the Federal Trade Commission in its beef with Nestle. FTC hide caption

itoggle caption FTC

The magical straw in a Nestle's children's vitamin drink is no longer magical.

The Federal Trade Commission say the company's claims that the straw that comes with the "BOOST Kid Essentials" drink contained probiotics that prevent upper respiratory infections, strengthen the immune system and reduce absences from school just went too far.

The company agreed to stop making the claims, but we wondered, is there a pattern here?

FTC flagged one particular ad (shown above) where the straw jumps out of the drink box and forms a barrier around a girl who encounters a sneezing boy. Then the barrier forms steps to allow her to shoot a basketball into a net.

Clever, right? This from a company that recently announced some aging pop-culture icons have recently formed the Butterfinger Defense League to boost sales of candybars.

But maybe not a trend.

"History has shown us that if a claim can be made, it's going to be," Stephen Barrett, who runs the website Quackwatch says.

Companies are "willing to stretch the truth if it will sell," he says, although larger companies tend to be more cautious, so we hear less about it.

However, the government tends to go after big companies for the splash value, Barrett says. Hence, FTC is not buying into the kid drink claims.

“‪Nestle's claims that its probiotic product would prevent kids from getting sick or missing school just didn’t stand up to scrutiny,” said a statement by David Vladeck, head of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

The straw order marks the second time in two months that the FTC has knocked out a major food company's marketing campaign designed to make its products appeal to health-conscious parents.

Last month, Kellogg's Rice Krispies got the hook for making exaggerated claims that the cereal would help boost kids immunity.

In 2009, the FTC went after Kellogg's Mini Wheats for claims about improving childrens' attentiveness in school.

Nestle's straw troubles are just the latest example of what seems to be a growing effort on the government's part to reign in health claims that aren't properly backed up by science.

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