The eBay advert for UK retailer GENR8’s sports nutrition supplement BTV made several claims of superiority compared to its Swedish competitor Vitargo.
GENR8’s BTV contains factionated potato amylopectin, a soluble polysaccharide and branched polymer of glucose found in plants, as well as l-canitine, which is derived from amino acids and found in the body.
Meanwhile Vitargo’s maker claims its glucose polymer product is the “best carbohydrate in the world”.
The patented brand name Vitargo was acquired by Swecarb AB from Lyckeby Starch in 2001.
GENR8 previously marketed the co-branded product Vitargo S2, but “then replaced it with the revolutionary GENR8 BTV”.
Vitargo products are no longer available on the Genr8online site, despite still being listed on the product menu. Instead these sections are filled with the new BTV product.
In its advert, GENR8 claimed its BTV product was superior to Vitargo in “storing and restoring glycogen”; enabling a “higher workout rate”; “fast gastric emptying and fast acting recovery”; producing a “high sugar-free insulin spike” and “superior anti-catabolic trigger for protein use”; assisting “lean muscle formation by cutting fat” and reducing “muscle fatigue after loading”.
Better left unsaid
The company believed the advert did not feature any health claims but rather comparative claims with a competing product.
Yet the ASA agreed with the complainant from the University of Nottingham that the claims were contrary to the EU Nutrition and Health Claims Register (NHCR).
“We noted that Genr8online believed that the ad did not feature any health claims, but rather that they were making comparative claims with a competing product.
“However, we considered in the context of the claims for the product's benefits for improved athletic performance, the claims […] implied a relationship between the product and health and were therefore likely to be understood as health claims, which must be authorised on the EU Register,” the authority said in its ruling.
“We considered the first two claims were likely to be understood by consumers to be health claims with a comparative element, which were also required to be authorised on the EU Register.”
The ASA said the advert must not appear again in its current form.
The company did not reply to our requests for comment in time for publication, however posted the following on Twitter:
Similar comparisons are made on GENR8’s website and social media accounts.