Gerber and its parent company Nestle have been hit with a federal suit by the Federal Trade Commission for what are said to be misleading and false claims about the company’s Good Start baby formula. The suit stems from Gerber’s advertising which says that the formulas prevent or reduce allergies in infants with a family history, says the complaint filed by the FTC.

Though the company bases its claim on its product’s “partially hydrolyzed whey protein” content, the FTC noted that the FDA refused back in 2005 to give Gerber “a health claim explaining the relationship between partially hydrolyzed whey protein (‘PHWP’) infant formula and reduced risk of food allergies in infants,” quoting the complaint. The Food and Drug Administration at the time said there was “no credible evidence” for the assertion and rejected a 2009 petition from Gerber to use similar language for the infant formula.

For their part, Gerber has countered the FTC’s claim by submitting “extensive, peer-reviewed scientific evidence [that] supports the role of 100% whey partially hydrolyzed infant formula in reducing the risk of atopic dermatitis, commonly known as baby eczema, in infants with a family history of allergy.” Gerber also claims that the FDA approved the qualified health claim based on that evience. The FTC disagrees and says that the FDA actually warned Gerber against doing so.

A public class-action lawsuit is also being held against Gerber.

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