Claims made by Olivet were challenged before NAD by Van Ness Plastic Molding Company, Inc., a competing manufacturer of plastic pet food storage containers. Olivet claimed that its product contained a minimum of 25% recycled material and that it was food safe. NAD found both claims adequately supported, noting that it sought to harmonize its efforts with relevant regulatory authority, in this case the FTC for the environmental claim and the FDA for the "food safe" claim.
The advertiser confidentially provided NAD with information regarding its recycling process, including a description of its sourcing, sorting, and processing procedures that was submitted to FDA in seeking a letter of no objection. Olivet also provided a no objection letter from the FDA that addressed its capability to clean and produce recycled plastic material for use in the manufacture of food contact articles.
Although this case involves a decidedly unsexy product category, it addresses claims that are very important to many pet owners. Like the FTC, NAD requires advertisers to substantiate their claims with the appropriate proof, particularly those claims that are difficult for consumers to evaluate themselves, such as claims about environmental benefits and safety.
NAD noted in its decision that the case presented a “confluence of two issues that are very important for many consumers – the safety of their pets’ food and the use of recycled content in products that they purchase (and the resulting impact on the environment that such a purchase provides).”