ASA ruling

Healthy water slugged over claims abuse

By Shane STARLING

- Last updated on GMT

Chia claims as they stand on the WFH home page today
Chia claims as they stand on the WFH home page today

Related tags Medicine functional beverage beverage

Scotland-based supplement and infused water distributor Water for Health (WFH) has been censored by the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for making non-authorised immunity and other claims for chlorella and other infusions in the European Union.

Claims that appeared on the WFH website and in a monthly magazine called What Doctors Don't Tell You​ (WDDTY) included: 

  • "Chlorella … Detoxifies and helps purify the body"
  • "Chia Seeds … Stabilize blood sugar … Enable detoxification"
  • "Organic Flax Seed Oil…will help … Maintain your cardiovascular health"

Other barred claims were based on broccoli (“combat allergens, remove toxins")​; prunes (heart health); turmeric curcuminoids (multiple benfits including liver disease).

More broadly the website stated: "Alkaline nutrition has tremendous therapeutic power and is also vitally important to support your body if you are undergoing conventional medical treatment."

Claims watchdog The Nightingale Collaboration​ complained to the ASA which upheld the complaint and ordered WFH to change its marketing.

WFH managing director Roddy McDonald told us the firm that distributes about 40 water infusions would comply but criticised the ruling and the ASA’s authority and expertise to interpret the EU nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR) even while would abide by the ruling.

“From our experience ASA are continuously dancing to the tune of a very vocal minority group that is understood to be funded by the pharmaceutical industry,”​ he said. “They are applying ‘regulations’ without any expertise and even less common sense.”

He added: “We do believe the role of ASA should be investigated as in our industry sector they are just being used to further the agenda of vested interests, which is not what they were incorporated to do."

In its 8-year existence WFH has fallen foul of ASA regulations on “eight or nine”​ occasions.

He said an uneven playing field existed because non-UK originated products sold via websites like Amazon were not being policed as strictly even though the UK medicines regulator (MHRA) had recently made a sweep of more than 100 unregistered herbal products​  at the online retailer.

Claim policing

McDonald said he was not aware of any efforts by the brand’s WFH distributes to apply for health claims under the NHCR.

He acknowledged the products in question were not backed by authorised NHCR claims.

The Nightingale Collaboration noted WFH was one of many companies that had advertised in WDDTY, and many of which had been successfully challenged by the Collaboration before the ASA.

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