Panel rules against natural sweetener claims

by Jeff Gelski
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NEW YORK — A National Advertising Review Board panel on Aug. 20 recommended Heartland Sweeteners, L.L.C. discontinue advertising claims that the company’s Ideal brand sweetener is “more than 99% natural” because it contains sucralose, an artificial high-intensity sweetener.

The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus determined about 80% of Ideal’s sweetness is the result of sucralose, which is 600 times sweeter than sugar, even though most of Ideal’s weight comes from xylitol, a natural sweetening agent, and unidex, a natural corn-based filler.

“Ideal is advertised and sold as a sweetener, and reasonable consumers will perceive the ‘More than 99% natural’ message as relating to Ideal’s sweetness and not its formulation of ingredients by weight,” the panel said.

Heartland Sweeteners, Carmel, Ind., in its advertiser’s statement, said it “respectfully disagrees with the NARB’s decision and maintains that its ‘more than 99% natural’ claim is clear, truthful and not misleading.”

Heartland Sweeteners still said it is reviewing its advertising and packaging. Because it supports advertising self-regulation, the company will take the NARB’s decision into account when developing future advertisements.
Chicago-based Merisant Co., which makes Equal brand sweeteners, originally challenged the Ideal claims before the National Advertising Division. The claims included:

●Natural! NO CALORIE SWEETENER
●Everyone loves Ideal, the new natural sweetener, that tastes like sugar, bakes like sugar, without the calories.
●More than 99% natural
●Ideal is . . . made with Xylitol, a natural sweetener found in fruits and vegetables.
●What’s so special about Xylitol? . . . All-natural, looks and tastes just like sugar. . .
●Ideal replacement in your sugar bowl . . . Sweeten the natural way!
●What makes Ideal different than the other no calorie sweeteners on the market currently . . . more than 99% natural.

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