Wonder Bread Marketers Settle FTC Charges

Claims That Bread with Added Calcium Could Help
Brain Function and Memory Alleged to be Unsubstantiated

FTC News Release
March 6, 2002

The marketers of Wonder Bread have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that ads claiming that Wonder Bread containing added calcium could improve children's brain function and memory were unsubstantiated and violated federal law. According to the FTC, the maker of Wonder Bread, Interstate Bakeries Corp. (IBC), aired an ad featuring a fictional spokesperson, Professor Wonder, who made claims that as a good source of calcium, Wonder Bread helps children's minds work better and helps their memory. The Commission alleges that IBC and its ad agency, Campbell Mithun LLC (Campbell), did not have adequate substantiation to make such health benefit claims for Wonder Bread. The proposed settlements announced today will bar the companies from making certain types of health benefit claims in the future, unless they have adequate substantiation.

Interstate Bakeries, based in Kansas City, Missouri, markets and sells baked goods under numerous national and regional brand names, including Wonder. Campbell Mithun, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was the ad agency involved in creating, preparing and disseminating the challenged ad. According to the product's packaging, Wonder Bread is "fortified" and "enriched," containing several vitamins and minerals such as calcium, folic acid, iron, thiamine (vitamin B), riboflavin (vitamin B2) and Niacin (vitamin B3). In the ad challenged by the FTC, Professor Wonder describes certain purported health benefits of calcium — that it helps children's minds work better and helps memory — and emphasizes that Wonder Bread has been fortified to be a "good source" of calcium. The complaints allege that IBC and Campbell did not have substantiation for the claims that, as a good source of calcium, Wonder Bread helps children's minds work better and helps them remember things. The Campbell complaint alleges that the ad agency knew or should have known these claims were unsubstantiated.

The proposed settlements announced today for public comment would prohibit both IBC and Campbell from claiming that any bread product, or any of its ingredients, helps brain function or memory, or can treat, cure or prevent any disease or related health condition, unless they have reliable scientific substantiation for the claims. The orders would allow the respondents to make representations specifically permitted by the Food and Drug Administration.

The Commission vote to accept the proposed consent agreements for public comment was 4-0, with Commissioner Sheila Anthony recused.

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This page was posted on November 20, 2005.

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