Mead Johnson Nutrition said it "strongly" disagrees with the jury's decision after the baby food giant lost a damages case launched by US private-label infant formula maker PBM Products.

PBM's lawsuit claimed that Mead Johnson had engaged in false and misleading campaigns against its store-brand infant formulas.

The company firm said Mead Johnson had falsely claimed the private-label products did not provide the same nutrition as its more expensive brands.

A court in Virginia awarded some US$13.5m in damages to PBM yesterday (3 December), which makes infant formulas to retailers like Wal-Mart Stores, Target Corp. and Kroger.

However, Mead Johnson said that, while it respects the jury's effort and decision, it "strongly disagrees" with their interpretation of the facts.

"Even with that, it was a very narrow decision. The trial focused on a single direct mail piece, and that particular advertisement was discontinued more than six months ago," Christopher Perille, vice president, corporate communications & public affairs told just-food.

"Mead Johnson values the trust of its customers, and that is why we conduct and support clinical studies to prove that our formulations provide the benefits advertised."

PBM said the case was the third time it had sued Mead Johnson for false advertising claims. On the other two occasions, Mead Johnson admitted that it made false claims about PBM's products, the private-label group said.

Mead Johnson however, is insistent that its Enfamil LIPIL infant formula has been the subject of "multiple independent clinical trials".

"It's one thing to add the ingredients to your formulation - it's another thing to go out and prove their benefits scientifically," Perille said. "To the best of our knowledge, while others offer the same ingredients, no other manufacturer has documented the same or similar benefits in published clinical studies anywhere for any other infant formula sold in the US.

"The intent of our advertising is the communication of the high quality of our products, the outstanding benefits they provide, and the world-class science and R&D on which our innovations are based - and that will not change going forward," he concluded."