Copy Points and Messages
The California Avocado Nutrition Copy Points and Messages must be approved by USDA.
Please review the “CAC 2017 California Avocado Nutrition Copy Points (1-23-17)” and "2016 HAB Nutrition Copy Points Heart Healthy (12/23/16)” before continuing with this module.
The copy points and messages in these documents must be used as listed. You cannot take two messages and merge them together, nor can you use only part of a message. With USDA, it is not as simple as the words used, but the following guidelines must be considered:
- Use only true statements or depictions and follow the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines for advertising, internet and other marketing materials. See 2016 USDA Training – FTC Guidelines for more information
- Use no false, misleading or deceptive statements. A deceptive ad or other promotional material is one that contains a misrepresentation or omission that “is likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances to their detriment.” Do not focus just on individual phrases or statements, but rather consider the ad/material as a whole, assessing the “net impression” conveyed by all elements of the ad/material, including the text, product name and depictions. See 2016 USDA Training – FDA Guidelines for more information
Copy Points and Messages (Continued)
- No statement or depiction is permitted that disparages another commodity or product. Any comparison to another commodity or product must be non-disparaging and limited to the presentation of fact-based information or data
- A disparagement is any statement or depiction that denigrates, discredits, or criticizes another commodity or product
- Net impression is the key. Without appropriate scientific evidence to back up an underlying claim, committees and boards should not make claims either through consumer or expert endorsements that would be deceptive or could not be substantiated if made directly. It is not enough that a testimonial represents the honest opinion of the endorser
- Identify all expressed and implied claims. Committees and boards cannot suggest claims that they could not make directly. Claims must be adequately supported
When comparing foods, always use FDA serving sizes which are “Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed Per Eating Occasion.”
Some Examples of Nutrition Messages Challenged and Approved
USDA Acceptable and Non Acceptable Examples:
See 2016 USDA Training – FDA Guidelines for more information
NO GOOD: “Fresh avocado on burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches and toast as a spread in place of many other popular foods may help reduce dietary intake of calories, fat, saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol.” (4/25/2013) [The issue here was that avocados alone could affect the reduction, and so we had to add “using” in front of the statement.]
- USDA APPROVED: Using fresh avocado on burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches and toast as a spread in place of many other popular foods may help reduce dietary intake of calories, fat, saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol
NO GOOD: “Need help getting in shape? Try our CA avocado recipes.” (4/1/2013) [The issue here was that USDA perceived that we were stating that “avocado” could help people get in shape, where as their position was “healthy eating” is what helps you get into shape, not avocados.]
- USDA APPROVED: Eating a healthy diet can help you get in shape. CA avocados can fit into a healthy diet. But just eating avocados isn’t going to help you get in shape
NO GOOD: Recipe tags for web search
- AMS doesn’t worry about the hidden tags boards use for search engines. But for recipe searches within CAC’s website, the tags for low-calorie, low-fat, etc. should be consistent with FDA requirements for those labels
Copy and Supporting Documentation
All documents containing nutrition copy should include supporting documentation.
If you are using USDA-approved nutrition messages, call that out in your cover note/e-mail and attach the approved nutrition copy points with the messages being used highlighted and an associated reference in your document. (See "copy" example on the next few slides)
Alert Angela to any nutrition language/claims that are not featured on the USDA-approved nutrition messages document and attach appropriate substantiation.
Allow extra internal and USDA approval time for new nutrition copy. All new nutrition copy requires close review of the supporting documentation to confirm that it supports the copy and that the copy used matches the support and does not change the meaning.
Copy and Supporting Documentation (Continued)
SEE/USE APPENDIX A (REFERENCES USED BY USDA) OF USDA 12/7/16 GUIDELINES
- Must be from a reputable, third-party source
- Citing CAC’s website is not acceptable as many of the items on the website have not been approved by USDA
- An email showing previous approval by AMS is acceptable. However, just because a statement was approved in the past doesn’t mean it will automatically be approved again by USDA. They may have approved it in error or their standards may have changed. They may request the original documentation be provided for the approval
- Nutrition Supporting Documentation - Nutrition and health facts must be supported by a reputable government source (i.e., Dietary Guidelines, Medline Plus, NIH, FDA, Let’s Move, etc.). Statements from American Heart Association (AHA), American Diabetes Association (ADA), etc. may be used in promotional items but only with attribution and current documentation
When preparing supporting documentation for nutrition, highlight both the copy and the supporting documentation. See examples on the next few slides.
(Note the highlighted USDA-approved nutrition messages in the example above)
(Note the highlighted USDA-approved nutrition messages in the example above)
FDA Food Labeling Guide – This is a more user-friendly version of the federal regulations:
Federal Regulations on Food Labeling:
FDA ruling on healthy claims
FDA regulations & Nutrition data for each serving - http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/
USDA Dietary Guidelines For American 2015-2020 - http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/
When planning to develop new nutrition messages, allow extra time for CAC and USDA approval. USDA average approval time on new nutrition messages is 3-5 days, but could take more depending on the complexity and the supporting documentation of the new nutrition messages.
When writing copy that includes nutrition messages you should...
- Use the USDA approved Nutrition Copy Points or Messages
- Use the Canadian Nutrition Society's nutrition messages
- Use a third party, such as Subway or Food Network, for nutrition messages
- Consult a local avocado grower
If I see something positive about avocados on the news, can I use that in our messaging?
- Yes, but only if you can find support for that message via one of the third-party government sources acceptable to USDA.
- Yes, as long as the information was from a reputable news outlet.
The website has some great stuff on the blog, can I use that content?
One of CAC’s nutrition experts just wrote a book about avocados, can I quote her book?
- No, unless the content references California avocados.
- No, unless you can support the content with one of the third-party government sources acceptable to USDA.
- No, unless you personally know the author.
I need a really short nutrition message for a promotion. Can I use part of a USDA-approved message?
I want to write a new message using support from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, (DGA) can I do that?
Which of the following sources are acceptable to USDA? (Check all that apply)
- American Heart Association
- American Diabetes Association
- American Society for Nutrition
- None of the Above
How long, on average, does it take for USDA to approve new nutrition messages?
- 4-5 Days
- 2-3 Days
- 5-7 Days
- None of the above
If you have any questions, please contact Angela Fraser at [email protected] or 949-341-1955, x106.