Agency clears New World Pasta whole grain claims

by Eric Schroeder
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NEW YORK — The National Advertising Division has determined that New World Pasta can support whole grains claims made on the company’s Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Pasta. The claims were challenged by Barilla America, Inc., a competing maker of pasta products.

The NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

In its complaint to the NAD, Barilla challenged several claims made by New World Pasta in on-line, print and e-mail advertising and by in-store shelf talkers. The challenged claims included:

• “Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Pasta has 2x the whole grain as the leading brand.”

• “Both are whole grain. But only one is 100% whole grain.”

• “One of these has 100% whole grain. Can you tell which one?”

• “These pasta dishes may look the same, but Ronzoni Healthy Harvest is made with 100% whole grain so each serving provides 56 grams. That’s twice as much as Barilla Whole Grain, which has only 28 grams.”

Barilla also asked the NAD to examine advertising that the company said implied that Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Whole Grain Pasta has twice as much dietary fiber per serving as Barilla Whole Grain Pasta. According to Barilla, the comparative claims made by New World Pasta for Healthy Harvest were misleading and falsely disparaged Barilla’s competing pasta, a product that contains 51% whole grains and is high in dietary fiber. Barilla contended Healthy Harvest’s whole grain claims misleadingly implied that it is higher in fiber than Barilla’s pasta.

The NAD said that, pursuant to Food and Drug Administration regulations, New World Pasta is permitted to claim that Healthy Harvest is an “excellent source” of fiber. At the same time, an implied “higher in fiber” claim would not be supported, as Barilla’s whole grain pasta has 6 grams of dietary fiber per serving, compared with 5 grams of dietary fiber per serving of Healthy Harvest.

The NAD also determined there was no evidence that consumers interpreted Healthy Harvest’s comparative whole grain claims as conveying a message that the product is higher in fiber than Barilla’s product, or that, to the extent that Healthy Harvest’s whole grain claims implied a “high in dietary fiber” message, that message was supported.

New World Pasta said it appreciated “NAD’s careful and thorough review of the issues involved in this case, as well as the opportunity to work with NAD and participate in the self-regulatory process.”

Meanwhile, Barilla said it respects “the process put forth by the National Advertising Division and believe that self-regulation remains a great method to ensure that consumers have the right information to make informed purchasing choice.”
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