‘You are not number one’, ASA tells Healthspan

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Pomegranate, Nutrition, Asa

The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has told Healthspan, a Guernsey-based distributor of food supplements to cease making claims that it is the number one supplier of “vitamins and supplements” in the UK.

The ad, which appeared in the form of an email, went on to state: “In the wake of some mixed messages regarding UK manufactured products and the sourcing of ingredients Id like to take this opportunity to reassure you about our uncompromising approach to quality and value and to explain what has made Healthspan the number one brand.”

Other headlines stated: "UKs No.1 for ..."​; "Highest Quality, UK-manufactured products";"Quality Ingredients"​; "Nutrition Expertise"​; "Value"; “Privacy"​ and "Service".

The ASA, a voluntary organisation, took issue with all these claims and told Healthspan the ad must not appear in its current form again.

Healthspan said a combination of its own sales figures and averages of competitors' sales had produced its figures, as well as the leading wholesaler's market share and average vitamin pack sizes.

“They believed that was sufficient substantiation, because of the nature of the data, which meant calculations were necessary to work out relative volumes of products sold by different suppliers,”​ ASA noted. “They stated actual sales figures did not show the whole picture, because they were a measure of cash rather than volume, and they were making a volume claim.”​ But ASA dismissed this argument: “We therefore considered the figures provided were not sufficient to substantiate the claim ‘more people buy their vitamins and supplements from Healthspan than any other supplier in the UK’ and concluded that the claim was misleading.”

POM Wonderful case

ASA recently ruled against a POM Wonderful ad that contained a bottle of the juice of global pomegranate juice leader, POM Wonderful, and a cut hangman's noose.

ASA said the ad must not appear again in its current form, after it received 23 complaints from the public. A POM Wonderful UK spokesperson told NutraIngredients.com the ads were pulled late last year.

The POM Wonderful superjuice ad contained the phrase: "Cheat death. The antioxidant power of pomegranate juice"​, and while ASA acknowledged there was no intention on the part of Pom Wonderful to deliberately mislead or “make an objective claim about longer life”​, it still found the ad problematic.

“We concluded that the claim was ambiguous and if read as a health claim, rather than an obvious untruth, it was capable of objective substantiation,”​ ASA ruled.

“We considered the evidence submitted by POM Wonderful to support the antioxidant benefits of pomegranate juice but concluded that it fell short of showing any direct relation between consuming the product and a longer life.”

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