HJ Heinz' brand of infant nutrition products in Italy, Plasmon, has received a favourable ruling on its complaint that rival baby food manufacturer Numico engaged in unfair and misleading advertising and labelling.

Plasmon accused Numico of using advertising and labelling for follow-on formula and growth milks to make the unproven claim that those specific products reinforced the immune systems of children.

The complaint was upheld by Istituto dell'Autodisciplina Pubblicitaria (IAP), the independent organisation that allows companies to self-regulate advertising in Italy.

Under the ruling, Numico must immediately withdraw its advertising and change product labelling within 90 days.

"As a trusted brand in Italy for 100 years, Plasmon filed the complaint against Numico because we believe parents of infants should not be subjected to misleading advertising," said Michael Mullen, director of global corporate affairs at Heinz.

Plasmon is the leading brand of infant nutrition products in Italy and the fourth-largest brand in Heinz's global portfolio.