One of the complainants was UK consumer watchdog, Which?.
Clasado, which has been universally rebuffed under the NHCR as have all prebiotic and probiotic players, today issued a statement referencing the research for its Bimuno product and the fact its claim-making was initially mandated as part of a transition period after its latest European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) claim rejection at the end of June 2013.
“The ASA has acknowledged that claims relating to digestive comfort made at the time of the instigation of the investigation were entirely permissible,” the firm said.
“Commission regulation 1017/2013 relating to a previous EFSA opinion specifically set out the provision of a six month transition period for existing digestive comfort claims.”
Such a transition period would apply after the opinion was written into the Official Journal of the European Union, meaning the claims could continue until May 13 this year, Clasado posited.
None of that held any sway with the ASA which said the web-based claims exaggerated the claim, “Bimuno may reduce intestinal discomfort", that could have applied to any approved transition period.
It told Clasado to cease making unauthorised disease-base claims.
Despite stating it had, “never at any point sought to make any misleading or exaggerated claims”, Clasado said it was, “receiving advice from the regulatory bodies to adjust claims on its consumer website.”
Rejected claim making
The Clasado claims included,“Helps stop bad bacteria from getting a hold" and, “helps encourage and sustain a healthy level of your gut's 'good bacteria' (Bifidobacteria) helping to prevent 'bad bacteria' from becoming established.”
The ASA said those claims were unfounded along with others on a page titled, "BIMUNO RESEARCH AND CLINICAL TRIALS" which summarised varying pieces of research including placebo-controlled, double-blind intervention trials.
Other pages were also censored including one that stated, “Bimuno users experience a significant increase in their gut Bifidobacterium within just 7 days.”
But the ASA said European Commission and UK Department of Health (DoH) guidance on the matter was clear: That even references to the words prebiotic and probiotic are implied, unauthorised health claims and therefore forbidden.
It therefore concluded, “that the ad contained health claims and reduction of disease risk claims for Bimuno Prebiotic Powder and TRAVELAID that were not authorised on the EU Register, nor were they a variation of the rejected claim to which the transition period applied, and the ad therefore breached the Code in those regards.”
Clasado’s rejected EFSA dossier focused on five human intervention studies, three non-human studies and one systematic review.
Bimuno GOS is a blend of β-galacto-oligosaccharides, derived from lactose conversion using Bifidobacterium bifidum NCIMB 41171 enzymes.
The full ASA ruling is here.