The firm’s national press advert included the statement “… contains high quality glucosamine sulphate combined with the purest chondroitin sulphate. Glucosamine is found naturally in the body where it plays a role in the smooth working of your joints and helps maintain connective tissues", with the words “joint care” in photographs of packs.
The advert also stated: "Omega 3 Fish Oil 1000mg. Omega 3 Fish Oil contains two important and beneficial fatty acids EPA and DHA, which play a key role in many body processes and are known to help maintain healthy joints."
ASA told the Guernsey-registered company that in the future claims about general benefits of a nutrient or food could only be used if accompanied by a specific authorised health claim found on the EU Register.
The company said an old copy of the advertisement had been accidentally supplied to the publication.
This second point on use of health claims was raised by ASA itself. The initial complaint referred to concerns that the advert was misleading because it did not provide details of the composition of the glucosamine and chondroitin supplement.
Both complaints were upheld by ASA.
On ASA’s health claim query it concluded: “We considered 'JOINT CARE', in the pack shots of the products that contained glucosamine, was a general health claim. We noted that Woods Health had not identified the claim that was intended to accompany it but, in any case, we had not seen evidence that the related [glucosamine] health claim which appeared in the ad […] was authorised on the Register.”
The only authorised health claim relating to omega-3, glucosamine or chondroitin sulphate is an unrelated maternal health claim for DHA and the normal development of the eye of the foetus and breastfed infants.
No health claims concerning joints are currently authorised according the EU register. However, 71 rejected claims relating to joint health are listed on the system – many of them concerning these three nutrients promoted by Woods Health.
Putting your money where your mouth is
The initial complaint suggested the way in which statements on price were presented (“Glucosamine & Chondroitin ONLY £14.99 for 360 tablets” and "Don't get ripped-off by outrageous prices from High Street names") could have been misleading since it was given for a certain number of tablets and not adequately explained with details of tablet strength or the amount of the ingredient included.
“We considered that was material information about the main ingredients that consumers needed in order for an informed decision to be made about the product and whether or not the price was, therefore, attractive. Because the ad omitted such material information, we concluded that it was misleading,” ASA wrote.