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Guernsey firm slapped for ‘miracle enzyme’ health claim abuse

By Shane Starling , 17-Jan-2013

The UK advertising watchdog has told a Guernsey-based supplements retailer-maufacturer to amend advertisements around enzyme supplements claiming joint, digestive, heart and other benefits.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) told Good Health Naturally (GHN) its health claims were not scientifically backed or medicinal in nature and therefore should be removed from its marketing materials.

But the GHN website today continued to boast claims that products containing the protease serrapeptase enzyme could support healthy lungs, scar reduction, healthy joints and more. The firm was not available for comment at the time of publication.

GHN told the ASA its claims were not health claims or medicinal claims because the claims were to ‘support’ various health areas and sent 15 documents to back this assumption for the enzyme the ad said was also backed in 23 studies.

Part of the ad stated: The 'Miracle Enzyme' is Serrapeptase…” which could, “support healthy: Joints & Tendons, Bronchial & Lung Function, Veins & Arteries, Digestive System & Colon, Heart & Circulation, Relief from Trauma, Swelling (eg post operative) & Sports Injury.”

Not substantiated

But the ASA dismissed GHN’s reasoning, noting that while no particular diseases were referenced, the ads did imply the three supplements in question, had a beneficial effect on the body either by helping to ease conditions which affected the listed parts of the body or by helping to protect against conditions from developing.”

The ASA said, “the claims in the ad which implied that serrapeptase had a beneficial effect on the body had not been substantiated and were therefore misleading.”

GHN agreed to remove claims the supplements were safe to take with other supplements and/or medicines and that there were no side-effects.

The voluntary watchdog said it had consulted with the UK medicines regulator the MHRA which confirmed serrapeptase was not classified as a medicine.

Claims being made on the GHN website today

It said, "Claims that state or imply a food prevents, treats or cures human disease" were not acceptable in marketing communications for foods supplements. We considered that the claims identified by the MHRA as medicinal implied that products containing serrapeptase could treat human disease and we therefore concluded the ad breached the Code in that regard.”

We told GHN they should not make health claims or other claims of efficacy for their products, or ingredients of those products, unless they held robust evidence to substantiate the claims.”

The complaint was registered by The Nightingale Collaboration, a UK group with a stated aim of, "Challenging misleading healthcare claims".

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