FTC Smacks Down Boost Kid Essentials for False Advertising

Adriana Velez

boostDo probiotics help children stay well and avoid sick days at school?

According to a recent court case, the answer to that question is NO, and don't even think about saying that they will.

Probiotics are live, "helper" bacteria that can aid digestion and may fight harmful bacteria. This is the Federal Trade Commission's first false advertising case challenging the claims of probiotics: The Nestlé subsidiary that makes Boost Kid Essentials has agreed to drop its claims that it "prevents upper respiratory tract infections in children, protects against colds and flu by strengthening the immune system, and reduces absences from daycare or school due to illness."

But here's the wacky part: The probiotics were not in the drink itself but embedded in the straw. What? Yup, keep reading to find out more.

This was the first straw of its kind in the US, but it's been delivering probiotics in Spain and Japan. Apparently when used, the straw releases an oil droplet containing 100 million L. Reuteri Protectis cells.

The probiotic straw is featured prominently in advertising for the product -- jumping out of the juice box and creating a barrier between the drinker and a sneezing kid. Then it formed steps so the juice drinker could sink a basketball into a hoop. (Is it me or does this not sound totally psychedelic?)

Anyhoo, according to the FTC, there has not been enough research to support the health claims of the super straw. "‪Nestlé’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. 

As someone who fed her family probiotic-rich kombucha and yogurt all winter partly to keep the flu away (no sick days for my kid!), this controversy over probiotics is intriguing. What do you think?  

Can yogurt keep the doctor away or is it all hype?

Image via Kids Essentials

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