The manufacturer and online retailer was criticised for a whole host of slimming and cosmetic claims including an implied health claim made by one of its brand names ‘Slender Blend’.
Protein World joined ESSNA in 2014, but the trade group confirmed today that the firm was no longer a member due to fears over what its membership meant for ESSNA’s credibility.
NutraIngredients understands that ESSNA had previously warned Protein World about its advertising and asked it more than once to ensure it complied with EU food law.
After the ASA case, ESSNA gave Protein World an opportunity to explain itself whilst also warning that its membership would be allowed to lapse.
We understand that Protein World did not respond to this request for a meeting.
Upon joining the trade group, all companies must commit to compliance. What is not clear though is whether the company's marketing material was already non-compliant when it signed such an agreement.
The company may re-apply for membership, but it would be subject to scrutiny in this case.
Protein World did not respond to our request for comment in time for the publication of this article.
The move came as ESSNA launched its online form to encourage individuals to anonymously flag illegal activity in the EU.
People in glass houses?
ESSNA said it acted as an industry “police”, which sought to clean up the reputation of sports nutrition and ease pressure on under-resourced national agencies.
Asked if the Protein World episode meant its credentials to take on such a role might be questioned, Chris Whitehouse, ESSNA’s director of strategy, said the key thing was that the company was no longer a member.
It had processed 50 cases of illegal activity since it launched its campaign on compliance back in 2013. It hoped the online form would help broaden this reach.
After receiving a complaint, it would notify the company of the issue and provide an opportunity for the issue to be resolved voluntarily. If this was not possible the information was forwarded onto the relevant authorities.
Dr Adam Carey, ESSNA's chair, said it was important the entire industry was vigilant.
“There are hundreds of responsible and law-abiding sports nutrition organisations across the EU that are working tirelessly to ensure our consumers’ safety and protection, however despite our best efforts, there are still many companies out there selling dangerous products masquerading as sports supplements or misleading their customers by how they advertise their products,” he said.