WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government is suing baby food maker Gerber, owned by Nestle SA, alleging it advertised that its Good Start Gentle formula would reduce the risk of a baby developing allergies despite having no proof for the claim.
The Federal Trade Commission, which filed the lawsuit on Wednesday, said Gerber put stickers on the baby food which said the formula would "reduce the risk of developing allergies."
The FTC also said Gerber advertised that the Food and Drug Administration approved its health claims, although the agency had not done so.
The commission said Gerber had received permission from the FDA to advertise that the formula may potentially reduce the risk for a specific allergy, atopic dermatitis, but required Gerber to qualify that claim, which it did not do.
Nestle said in an emailed statement that it was "disappointed" in the FTC decision to file a lawsuit.
"We are defending our position because we believe we have met, and will continue to meet, all legal requirements to make these product claims," the company said.
Nestle shares closed up 0.4 percent in Swiss trading.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Ros Krasny, Paul Simao and Andrew Hay)
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