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Nestle, supplement co. settle federal ad cases

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PORTLAND, ORE. (AP) - A Nestle subsidiary has agreed to stop advertising that its children's drink Boost Kid Essentials can prevent illness, increase immunity and reduce school absences, the Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday in announcing two settlements.

The FTC said it reached the settlement with Nestle HealthCare Nutrition Inc. and a separate one with a major dietary supplement maker as part of a larger effort to crackdown on "bogus health claims" on consumer products.

The regulatory agency said Nestle has agreed to stop asserting its Boost drink, with probiotics, can enhance children's immune systems, prevent certain illnesses or speed recovery unless the statements are approved by regulators.

"Nestle's claims that its probiotic product would prevent kids from getting sick or missing school just didn't stand up to scrutiny," said David Vladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "Parents want to do right by their kids, and the FTC is helping them by monitoring ads and stopping those that are deceptive."

This is the FTC's first case challenging advertising for probiotics. Probiotics are live bacteria found naturally in many foods and are touted as aiding digestion and fighting harmful bacteria.

Nestle, the world's largest food and nutrition company, said in a statement that it is pleased to have reached an agreement over the advertisements for Boost, which ended in the fall.

The second settlement the FTC announced was with Iovate Health Sciences USA. and two affiliated companies in Canada over their advertising for dietary supplements, some of which were discontinued as long ago as 2007.

Under the settlement, Iovate agreed to pay $5.5 million to cover refunds to consumers who purchased Accelis, nanoSLIM and any Cold MD, Germ MD and Allergy MD. The products were marketed as supplements to aid in weight loss and prevent or reduce illness.

Iovate also said it was pleased to reach the agreement.

In March, the FTC and drug store chain Walgreen Co. settled claims that Walgreen's marketing of store-brand diet supplements was deceptive. Walgreen agreed to pay $6 million.

In 2009, the FTC settled cases with drug store chains CVS Caremark and Rite Aid over similar products and with Kellogg Co. over its health claims about Frosted Mini-Wheats.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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