Nestlé Agrees To Stop Promising Boost Kiddie Drink Is Anti-Diarrheal, Pro-Studying

Nestlé is the latest company to slap some nutrients (or in this case probiotics) in a product, call it “functional food,” and market it to shoppers as a healthy and smart product. Last week, the FTC got the company to agree to stop claiming that its chocolate Boost Kid Essentials–which comes with a straw lined with probiotic bacteria (mmm delicious!)–will do things like protect them from diarrhea and improve school attendance rates. The FTC says the claims aren’t substantiated with adequate scientific research.

“Nestlé Will Drop Claims of Health Benefit in Drink” [New York Times]


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  1. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    If homeopathic “medicine” can claim water can cure ear infections, insomnia, etc…. why can’t Nestle claim their product with actual things in it can as well?

    • sirwired says:

      Homeopathic medicine has a specific exception in the law allowing it to claim for actual disease cures and relief.

      Yes, it is a stupid law. When homeopathy was developed, it was actually quite a positive development since water was much better for you than some of the nasty stuff passed off as drugs at the time; credulous senators combined with lobbyists has preserved the exception.

      If you look carefully however, most homeopathic medicine companies are not complete morons; most homeopathic “remedies” don’t go the total quack route and claim to cure cancer, diabetes, AIDS, etc., since that would certainly open them up to lawsuits, for which they are not granted immunity. (And a well-publicized case or two would probably lead to the loss of legal protection.) Most of the “cures” that homeopathy says they provide are conditions with a traditionally strong placebo affect, which is the one thing homeopathic “cures” are good at. (think allergies, headaches, colds, constipation, mild fever, etc.)

      • dreamfish says:

        Unfortunately they are still deceptive as it is indeed the placebo effect that helps the condition, not the super-diluted ‘medicine’.

        Homeopathy doesn’t work. No proper evidence to support any of its claims (emphasis on properly done trials). End of story.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        If you look carefully, you will often see a little asterisk, which coincides with a little note that says ~”This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”

        • sirwired says:

          Actually, that rule applies to natural supplements. Homeopathic “remedies” need make no such disclaimer. (That doesn’t mean they actually work, just that the law does not require them to avoid disease claims.)

  2. sirwired says:

    What I want to know is when they will start breaking out the fines… what is the incentive for a company to test the bounds of the law if there is no real penalty?

    • SabreDC says:

      They should break out the fines if they ask Nestle to make the change and Nestle refuses. Every company and individual deserves to be given at least a notification that they need to make a change before being punished.

      • sirwired says:

        This was not ambiguous at all; saying a drink prevents colds (an actual disease) is well within the realm of requiring approval as a drug. Just like you don’t get off with a warning going 100mph in a 55, Nestle should not have gotten a warning for these stupidly over-reaching claims.

        • SabreDC says:

          Prevent != cure

          Many things can prevent colds: washing hands before eating, not touching eyes/nose/mouth, eating a healthy diet, and so on. Do you need FDA approval to post a sign saying “Wash your hands to limit the spread of the flu”? Where did Nestle say that their miracle products cure diseases?

          • sirwired says:

            Stating you prevent specific diseases is a prohibited claim for a non-drug ingested product. You can make vague and stupid claims that your product is an “immunity booster”, but you cannot claim it prevents colds (a specific set of viruses) without specific evidence. This got Airborne (and generics for that product) in serious trouble. Products such as this are not supposed to mention any specific disease and almost always include the following disclaimer: “This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”

            Allowed: “Immunity Booster”, “Improves Heart Health”, “Good for Blood Sugar”
            Disallowed under most circumstances: “Prevents Colds/Flu”, “Lowers Blood Pressure”, “Prevents Cancer”, “Improves Diabetes”

            The law here is not in any way ambiguous.

            Soap and other sanitation products are covered under separate rules, as they are not ingested. They still require evidence that they do what they say they do, but they do not require drug approvals to make those claims.

  3. Brontide says:

    Jeeze, just give the kids a soda and a multivitamin, they would be better off. 355 calories and 17.8 grams of fat in 8 oz!

    Product Name: BOOST® KID ESSENTIALS 1.5 ( 237ml / 8 fl oz ).
    Calories (kcal): 355
    Total Fat (g): 17.8
    Sodium (mg): 164
    Sodium (mEq): 7.1
    Potassium (mg): 309
    Potassium (mEq): 7.9
    Total Carbohydrate (g): 39
    Protein (g): 10
    Vitamin A (IU): 711*
    Vitamin C (mg): 24
    Calcium (mg): 309
    Iron (mg): 3.3
    Vitamin D (IU): 125
    Vitamin E (IU): 5.4
    Vitamin K (mcg): 15
    Thiamin (mg): 0.28
    Riboflavin (mg): 0.36
    Niacin (mg): 2.4
    Vitamin B6 (mg): 0.38
    Folic Acid (mcg): 70
    Vitamin B12 (mcg): 0.57
    Biotin (mcg): 36
    Pantothenic Acid (mg): 2.4
    Phosphorus (mg): 235
    Iodine (mcg): 25
    Magnesium (mg): 47
    Zinc (mg): 1.75
    Selenium (mcg): 8.1
    Copper (mg): 0.26
    Manganese (mg): 0.55
    Chromium (mcg): 16
    Molybdenum (mcg): 14
    Chloride (mg): 178
    Chloride (mEq): 5.0
    L-Carnitine (mg): 6.2
    Taurine (mg): 32
    Choline (mg): 95
    M-Inositol (mg): 28
    Water (mL): 170

    • Brontide says:


      This product is a medical food for use as directed by a medical professional.
      It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

  4. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Next time someone says we need less government controling our lives, I’m going to point them to this. A giant company making false claims about the properties of their food, akin to a snake oil salesman. Glad to see the tax payer money going to something that makes sense.

    • evnmorlo says:

      The government only demanded a change in a few details of advertising. Nestle wasn’t penalized in any way and will continue to sell just as much worthless product to idiots. Meanwhile companies that have distributed the appropriate bribes to our loving government are making a lot more money selling equally useless pharmaceuticals with debilitating side-effects.

  5. duncanblackthorne says:

    I’d like to take this opportunity to voice an opinion about a related product. I keep seeing something at the grocery store called “Good Belly”, and every time I see it, I start thinking “What is this, are we decending back to the stone age? ‘Good belly. Fire good too!’ “. Seriously: Is it just me that thinks so, or does there seem to be even more snake oil out there than there used to be?

    • ngwoo says:

      People are stupider now. Companies no longer have to actually bottle snake oil, they can just call water snake oil and people will purchase it.

  6. dg says:

    The best health benefits for kids (in no particular order):

    1) Enough sleep
    2) Enough exercise
    3) Multivitamins
    4) Playing outside and eating the occasional dirt pie or worm…
    5) Getting the flu, ear infections, and other childhood maladies…

  7. Conformist138 says:

    If we got sick, mom just put us on the BRAT diet of easy-on-the-stomach foods. I still refer to it now when a friend or I get sick. Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast (all plain, of course). No need to spend money giving kids what is pretty much just Slim Fast (with the calories to match). As for preventing illness… kids get sick. So what? It’s target practice for the immune system; the kid needs to survive outside the bubble sooner or later.