Poland clamping down on misleading supplement ads

By Annie Harrison-Dunn contact

- Last updated on GMT

With future supplement growth forecast for Poland, monitoring of advertising is a priority, say national authorities
With future supplement growth forecast for Poland, monitoring of advertising is a priority, say national authorities

Related tags: Poland, Marketing

Polish health and competition authorities have sent warning letters to 315 supplement companies as a first step in a multi-agency crackdown on the misleading marketing of supplements. 

The letters to manufacturers and distributors of food supplements were sent indiscriminately by the Polish State Sanitary Inspectorate and the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection. 

The businesses were given one month to reply with details of measures taken to ensure advertisement was compliant. 

The letter referenced regulations including the Food Information for Consumers (FIC) regulation​ ​and the 2006 nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR)​ and reminded brands that all foodstuffs launched between 2007-2015 had to be registered to enable monitoring​. 

A spokesperson for the Polish State Sanitary Inspectorate, Jan Bondar, told us the move came as a response to a high number of complaints about the sector. 

In 2013 and 2014 it received 74 and 104 complaints respectively concerning inappropriate advertising and presentation of food supplements in the mass media. 

The authorities are also planning education campaigns to remind industry it could not mislead consumers in its advertising, include pharmaceuticals in food supplements or make disease claims and to increase consumer, pharmacist and doctor awareness of how these products should and should not be marketed and used. 

They hoped self-regulation of the market would be possible, but Bondar added that if this strategy was not effective it could enforce fines of up to 30 times the average monthly salary in Poland depending on the nature of the offense.

The authorities said supplements in Poland had experience hefty growth in recent years. However, there remained a deficit in consumer knowledge, something they warned could be exploited by unscrupulous advertisers. 

Earlier this year a study of 86 selenium supplements​ available on the Polish market revealed content labels were often inaccurate or incomplete.

“[T]he label and information attached to the dietary supplement do not constitute a full or reliable source of information for consumers,”​ the researchers from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland wrote at the time. 

With future supplement growth forecast, the two authorities said monitoring advertising was a priority. 

Food supplements in Poland had a retail value of €336.9m in 2014 – up from €266m in 2009, according to Euromonitor International.

Meanwhile, a report from market research firm PMR this year predicted 6.6% growth in the Polish supplements market this year and 5% growth in 2016.

Thereafter it forecast a yearly growth of about 8% between 2017 and 2020, at which point PMR said the market would be worth over €1bn.

While it does not have the Euro as its currency, Poland has been an EU member since 2004 and is the sixth most populous member.  

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1 comment

Quality is required!

Posted by Prof. Chlodwig Franz,

There was a large European Project on Plant Food Supplements (PFS) and their Benefit and Risk Assessment (PlantLIBRA, www.plantlibra.eu) and in Addition to it FSE (Foo Supplements Europe) issued end of 2014 a Quality guide for plant extracts used in PFS: the companies should respect and follow it!

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