Merck multivitamins reap EFSA-backed fatigue-fighting marketing boost

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Merck multivitamins reap EFSA-backed fatigue-fighting marketing boost

Related tags Health claims regulation Vitamin

The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has confirmed that a Merck-owned UK food supplement manufacturer was justified in making fatigue reduction claims for a multivitamin containing eight European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)-approved nutrients.

A national press campaign promoting Nature's Best Health Products’ ‘One-a-Day’ was challenged for making unsubstantiated claims but the ASA backed the firm as the claims and dosages were approved by EFSA even if at the time they had not been written into European Union law.

The adverts first appeared on November 19 last year – long before the article 13 list of 222 approved claims Nature's Best utilised became law on May 16 this year under the EU nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR).

It included the claim that the ‘One-a-Day product, "Includes 8 nutrients that can contribute to the reduction in tiredness and fatigue.” ​Those nutrients are riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, vitamin C and magnesium.

But the ASA found no issue with the company using the claims slightly ahead of their official publication into EU law under the NHCR, as a draft had already gone into wide circulation.

After consulting the UK Department of Health, ASA said in a ruling published today: “We therefore understood that, at the time the ad appeared, the draft Annex for the EU register of Health Claims was not yet confirmed in law, but also acknowledged that it was an indication of which health claims could be authorised in due course. We understood that a positive ESFA opinion should be regarded as a valid scientific opinion.”

With dosage well above the 15% recommended daily allowance (RDA) required to make the claim, the ASA said there was nothing misleading about the marketing.

“We expect that everyone will be copying us”

Nature’s Best commercial director John Willis got in touch to say how pleased his company was with the ruling that brought few surprises as they had sought guidance from the ASA before commencing the campaign.

“We felt we were on solid ground as we do a lot of catalogue work and had been in discussions with the ASA about the EFSA's rulings,” ​Willis said. “But we may be the first supplements company to come out with EFSA claims like this. We expect that everyone will be copying us.”

“What concerns us is the 15% RDA requirement which is so low it will see the claims spread but not necessarily on the best products.”

Nature’s Best best-selling products are omega-3 and glucosamine supplements.

An example of one of the EFSA opinions, for magnesium, can be found here​.

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1 comment

Who is buying this?

Posted by Patricia Hetherington,

I cannot believe that a pharmaceutical company would actually want it's consumers to be completely healthy, Merck makes no money on healthy, cured, disease free consumers. Give me a break! If anyone has read "SElling Sickness", you would know they are out to drain you of your health and $$$.

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