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ASA: “Our referrals to Trading Standards are a clear warning to those who won’t stick to the rules that they face the prospect of legal sanctions. And these are just the first referrals"

Getting heavy: ASA refers health claim abusers to Trading Standards for first time

By Shane Starling+

21-May-2014
Last updated on 22-May-2014 at 15:46 GMT

The UK advertising watchdog has referred two UK supplement makers to enforcement authorities for, persistent misleading advertising health claims in breach of the Advertising Code.” More are set to follow, it said, as the agency cracks down on EU nutrition and health claim regulation (NHCR) breaches. 

The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) broke precedent by issuing a statement for the first time calling out the two firms – Electronic Healing and Fahrenheit60 Ltd – for making unauthorised medicinal claims. The cases are being investigated by Camden Trading Standards in London.

“Misleading advertising is unfair, but a misleading health claim can also be particularly harmful,” said ASA chief executive Guy Parker.

“Our referrals to Trading Standards are a clear warning to those who won’t stick to the rules that they face the prospect of legal sanctions. And these are just the first referrals: We’re preparing our cases against other advertisers who persist in making misleading claims.”

The ASA said Electronic Healing and Fahrenheit60 Ltd failed to back up claims after previous complaints, were subsequently named and shamed but, “continued to make problem claims.”

Exaggerated claims

Electronic Healing’s ‘Bob Beck Protocol’ and ‘Liquid Oxygen Drops’ products made claims around microbe disabling, energy boosting, immunity and disease prevention.

The Bob Beck Protocol video claimed it could, “amplify the immune system, remove the need for flu vaccinations, increase oxygen in the blood, reduce HIV infection levels and help fibromyalgia”.

Fahrenheit60’s ‘Aspire’ drink claimed it could burn up to 200 calories per can. The ingredients, it said, could boost metabolism, suppress appetite, accelerate weight loss and oxidise fat. 

The ASA said the National Trading Standards Board (NTSB) acted as its legal backstop and one it would be employing more often.

Lord Toby Harris, chairman of the NTSB commented: “The self-regulation system operated by the ASA works very well but key to this is those few firms who won’t comply, knowing that they will face formal enforcement action if required. We are very pleased to be working with Camden and ASA to ensure the system works well for legitimate businesses and for consumers.”

Last month the ASA's Matt Wilson signaled the potential for increased action when he told us of stricter measures including removing paid-for ads via search engine agreement; advising trade associations to take action; closing down web domains or referral to courts.

"Court action is a last resort but we will issue such action if other measures fail," Wilson said.

The ASA ruling on Fahrenheit60 Ltd is here .

The Electronic Healing ruling is here .

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