Glucosamine joint health ads went “too far”, says ASA

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Bone

"Smooth working?" Seven Seas glucosamine joint claims were close but not close enough to approved claims, the ASA has found
"Smooth working?" Seven Seas glucosamine joint claims were close but not close enough to approved claims, the ASA has found
The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled against glucosamine-joint health claims being made by supplements manufacturer Seven Seas, despite the claims being almost identical to its own approved version.

ASA spokesperson Matt Wilson said the national print advert which featured the headline, "Want smooth working joints throughout the day?" ​went beyond the approved wording and therefore required additional substantiation.

“The headline went too far and implied an additional claim that required further evidence but we were never provided with anything,” ​Wilson said.

Seven Seas was asked to provide such substantiation but a spokesperson said there was no additional information other than what it had already provided. The spokesperson said the firm had challenged the ASA stance during communications when the ruling was being made, but told while the firm did not agree with, or even understand the logic behind it, it would comply.

Seven Seas agreed to pull the campaign for Seven Seas JointCare Opti-Release just before Christmas after receiving notice of the ASA’s objection.

Smooth working

The ASA’s Committee for Advertising Practice (CAP)-approved claim for glucosamine states: Glucosamine occurs naturally in the body where it plays a role in the smooth working of the joints and helps maintain connective tissues.”

CAP then adds that while glucosamine can play a role in the “smooth working”​ of joints, that does not mean, for instance, it can help healthy joints. CAP’s long standing position is that marketers should not claim that products containing Glucosamine can help maintain healthy joints, aid joint mobility or treat arthritis and/or osteoarthritis.”

Further text in the Seven Seas advert stated: "Try new Seven Seas JointCare Opti-Release for a sustained release of glucosamine that's in rhythm with your body".​ And as an asterixed footnote to the disputed headline it repeats exactly the approved wording: "Glucosamine occurs naturally in the body where it plays a role in the smooth working of the joints and helps maintain connective tissues. Seven Seas JointCare Opti-Release is one of a number of products including Seven Seas Joint Care Sport with Omega 3".

In a statement issued today, Seven Seas reiterated its disagreement with the ruling:We strongly maintain that the advert in question was not misleading and refute the ASA’s belief that that advert implies a joint health improvement. In order to provide consumers with absolute clarity, we specifically included information on glucosamine that is expressly permitted within the CAP list of ingredient claims.”

It added: “Although we refute the complaint we have fully complied with ASA and the advert has not been shown after we received the news of their investigation.”

While the Seven Seas dossier was not expanded upon, Wilson acknowledged if it had been, the ASA then had the potential to look to scientific opinions on the nutrient, such as the negative opinions that have been issued by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

CAP issued its “smooth working”​ joints glucosamine claim after an expert reviewed the available evidence in 2004 and determining that it could not, provide a cumulative future beneficial effect or prevent future injuries or joint degeneration.”

On the same logic, healthy joints claims were also barred.

EFSA’s October 2009 glucosamine opinion that can be found here​, states glucosamine, either alone or combined with chondroitin, does not contribute to the, “maintenance of normal joints in the general population.”

It is expected CAP will have to review its own claim if and when this opinion becomes European Union law under the 2006 nutrition and health claims regulation.

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