Perfect World complained to the ASA about health claims made by rivals Taywell and Oppo on their websites. The ASA upheld the complaint against Oppo last month, and at the time was considering three specific complaints against Taywell.
Today's ruling against Taywell sees those complaints upheld.
No means no
“We considered that the claim ‘say no to added sugar’ was a nutrition claim for the purposes of the Regulation, which was likely to have the same meaning to consumers as the permitted nutrition claim ‘with no added sugars’,” wrote the ASA in its ruling on the first complaint against Taywell.
The authority noted this claim could only be used when a product contained no food for sweetening purposes, including the erythritol and steviol glycosides, agave nectar and jaggery used by Taywell.
“We therefore understood that the claim did not comply with the conditions of use associated with the permitted ‘with no added sugars’ nutrition claim,” the ASA said.
The authority also struck down Taywell’s use of the phrase ‘refined sugar free’ as not being listed in the annex of permitted claims – although Taywell said the use of this phrase on its website was an error, and corrected it when the ASA first brought it to the firm’s attention.
Finally the ASA ruled against the claim ‘an extra source of calcium and B vitamins’, saying it was ambiguous and that consumers could see Taywell’s products as containing extra calcium and B vitamins from an additional source.
The authority said in either case, Taywell was making a nutrition claim that its ice cream was a significant source of calcium and B vitamins.
“However, we had not seen any evidence that the claim complied with the conditions of use associated with either of those permitted nutrition claims. We therefore concluded that the claim ‘an extra source of calcium and B vitamins’ was in breach of the Code,” the ASA said.
The UK authority said the claims on the website must not appear again in their current form.
Spite, or legitimate complaints?
Taywell owner Alastair Jessel declined to comment.
But in previous comments to NutraIngredients, when he understood the ASA would rule against Taywell, he claimed the complaint by Perfect World was commercially motivated calling it “very petty, very spiteful".
In a Facebook post by Taywell in May, the firm said: “We would… like to thank Perfect World Ice Creams for showing their true colours and suggest to all our followers to taste their nut oil and water-based 'ice cream' and let us know what you think. How does it compare with Sweet Rebellion?”
Perfect World CEO and co-founder Chris Conklin said in an emailed statement: “The ruling speaks for itself, and it is of course much wider than was suggested in [NutraIngredients’] previous article. As we said previously, unsubstantiated claims cause confusion for consumers and there are clear regulations that should be followed.
“We do not consider our legitimate complaints as part of a spat. They are part of a purely factual exercise to help consumers and to protect the legitimacy of health and nutrition claims, as the industry is largely self-regulated,” he added.
Conklin also said that the ruling on Taywell’s refined sugar claim – which Taywell claimed was an error – will have wider implications in the UK’s food industry.