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Holland & Barrett 'qualified to advise' on nutrition? Yes says regulator after challenge


By Shane Starling+

Last updated on 26-Aug-2014 at 09:06 GMT2014-08-26T09:06:12Z

ASA on the H&B page in question: “We considered that the course gave participants suitable knowledge to be able to advise on nutrition and supplements...
ASA on the H&B page in question: “We considered that the course gave participants suitable knowledge to be able to advise on nutrition and supplements..."

UK supplements and health food retailer Holland & Barrett (H&B) has had its staff training programmes vindicated after a customer challenged whether in-store workers were "Qualified to advise".

The NBTY-owned British retail giant, with 620 stores across the UK and Ireland, had its ‘Qualified to advise’ webpage challenged by an internet user but the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) backed H&B.

The agency said H&B’s claim that its associates possess, a nationally recognised qualification in nutrition and supplements” was not exaggerated.

H&B said some of its staff had gained a QCF ((Qualifications and Credit Framework) qualification, which was recognised by Ofqual (Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation).

The ASA said the course was, “extensive and covered a number of areas including safety, vitamins and minerals, healthy eating, herbal remedies, nutritional supplements and common ailments.”

It also advised about no-go health areas that may, for instance, fall within the medical realm.

“We considered that the course gave participants suitable knowledge to be able to advise on nutrition and supplements and the advertising had not exaggerated their expertise in that area,” the ASA concluded.

“We also considered that, because the qualification obtained at the end of the training programme was a recognised qualification, the claims that staff were qualified to advise on nutrition and supplements were unlikely to mislead. We concluded therefore that the advertising did not breach the Code.”

The page included statements that its staff were equipped to advise on areas like vitamin C, whey, protein, echinacea and fish oils.

“If you are taking supplements, take our advice,” the ad said.

The training programme was not confined to H&B products but included, “body systems, health, ailments, nutrition, food supplementation and herbal remedies.”

“The course consisted of numerous workbooks and learning tools and staff were expected to use other external materials, attend courses and pass online examinations for each level of qualification,” the ASA noted.

2 comments (Comments are now closed)


I've regularly found that H & B offer very low levels of active ingredients in their supplements. It's all smoke an mirrors. Which is a real shame as they're in a position to really educate and serve.
This training course sounds just the same. If the previous poster has real evidence please, pass it on the ASA, I'm sure they legally have to follow up.

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Posted by James Wright
26 August 2014 | 10h222014-08-26T10:22:00Z

Former Manager of Holland and Barett

As a former manager, I can verify that staff are allowed a bigger commission once they have passed their 'Workbooks'. The info is extremely basic (sub-GCSE standard) and examples can be provided. The store and area manager also get a larger share of commission when their staff pass the multichoice questions... and people give each other answers and generally cheat as there are no safeguards or 'independent' bench marks. In the interests of 'enhancing' their reputation, I'd like to challenge Holland and Barrett to publish their FULL training workbooks and associated tests. It would be interesting to know EXACTLY how many of their staff have got an 'independently verifiable' nutrition-associated qualification (of any level)? I'm sure they have nothing to hide, and so I'll be interested to see their 'Qualification' details/paperwork etc, and look forward to seeing that sometime soon.... I have this available, and would be willing to share with members of the media or other interested parties if NBTY are not?

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Posted by Name Witheld
25 August 2014 | 19h462014-08-25T19:46:53Z