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UK ASA ruling

UK on diabetic supplement: Blood sugar link ok (but not diabetes)

By Shane Starling+

26-Mar-2014
Last updated on 27-Mar-2014 at 16:50 GMT

Vitabiotics has complied with the ASA ruling for its Diabetone food supplement
Vitabiotics has complied with the ASA ruling for its Diabetone food supplement

The brand name of a food supplement aimed at diabetics called Diabetone is protected under the EU nutrition and health claim regulation (NHCR), the UK advertising watchdog has found. But it ruled against what it found to be text suggestive of treatment.

Manufacturer, Vitabiotics, sent a statement saying it had complied with the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruling.

“Vitabiotics updated the sentence [in question] within the single web page highlighted as soon as this was drawn to our attention,” said director or communications, Alexandra Hilton.

“Furthermore we are pleased that the ASA did not uphold any complaint regarding our press advertising, and that the Diabetone advert highlighted and its claims, were found to fully comply with the code.”

Vitabitoics in 2013 became the UK’s biggest supplements player, according to IRI data.

Diabetes claim beaten down

Diabetone used an NHCR-approved claim relating to chromium, but overdid it on its website, the ASA said, by stating the product had, particular relevance to people with diabetes” even if the trademarked brand name suggested the very same thing.

Vitabiotics said it made clear the product was a food supplement and not a medicine but the ASA ruled otherwise.

The ASA said the brand name – protected under article 28 of the NHCR until 2022, combined with the claim, “would be understood by consumers to mean that taking the product could be particularly beneficial to people with diabetes and therefore treat the condition.”

“We considered that presenting the claim in combination with the product name 'Diabetone' and the authorised health claim, ‘includes Chromium which contributes to the maintenance of normal blood glucose levels’ also added to this impression.”

“We also considered that, in the context of the ad, the claim ‘suitable for people with diabetes’ implied that the product could treat diabetes, rather than that it was merely able to be taken by diabetics.”

Blood glucose claim backed

For the claim that appeared in the press campaign, which included the disclaimer, "FOOD SUPPLEMENT. Diabetone is not a treatment for diabetes", the ASA agreed there was no issue of a medical insinuation.

“We considered that the product name ‘Diabetone’ was an implied health claim, but that it did not imply the product could prevent, treat or cure disease,” the body said, referring to article 28 of the NHCR which protects brand names that imply health claims.

The ASA said: “We understood that if a brand name or trade mark of a product implied a nutrition or health claim they did not have to be in the EU Register of permitted nutrition or health claims, but they must be accompanied by a prominent, related, authorised and listed claim and the claim must be relevant to the trade mark or brand name.”

Vitabiotics had done this by including the approved chromium claim and therefore the watchdog ruled in favour of the company. Vitabiotics had previous with the ASA over the product as in 2010 it adjusted its advertising after being censored by the body for not clearly stating the product was a food supplement.

Vitabiotics exports to more than 100 countries.

The 2010 European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) opinion on chromium, blood glucose and other conditions can be found here .

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