Perfetti Van Melle fined for dental health messages on chewing gum

By Oliver Nieburg contact

- Last updated on GMT

Perfetti Van Melle maintains its ad campaigns were scientifically-backed and compliant with food legislation. ©iStock/klags
Perfetti Van Melle maintains its ad campaigns were scientifically-backed and compliant with food legislation. ©iStock/klags

Related tags: Perfetti van melle, Oral hygiene, Chewing gum

Mentos maker Perfetti Van Melle must pay a €180,000 ($192,000) fine for suggesting its chewing gum had equivalent dental health effects to brushing teeth.

The TAR of Lazio (Tribunale Amministrativo regionale del Lazio) rejected the company’s appeal earlier this month and said the confectioner must pay the fine originally issued by Italian’s competition authority in 2013.

Claims on Mentos, Daygum and other brands

The case relates to multiple promotional messages on Perfetti gum brands such as Mentos, Happydent, Vivident Xylit and Daygum.

The court said the marketing campaigns went beyond promoting the effect of sugar-free gum to neutralize plaque acids – an approved EU health claim – and instead suggested chewing the products was equivalent to or a substitute for brushing teeth.

For example, the court called out imagery juxtaposing the gum products with oral hygiene instruments and dental health studies.

EFSA positive opinions on sugar free gum

  • Helps neutralize plaque acids
  • Helps maintain tooth mineralization
  • Helps reduce tooth demineralization
  • Reduces oral dryness
  • Sugar-free gum with carbamide neutralizes plaque acids more effectively
  • Xylitol-sweetened (100%) gum reduces dental plaque 

‘We totally reject the accusation’

Anna Re, corporate communications manager for Perfetti Van Melle in Italy, told ConfectioneryNews: “We are very disappointed that our fact-based arguments were not taken into consideration by the court issuing the judgement.

“We were not charged of using misleading marketing messages on our gum products: All claims on products are in compliance with relevant food legislation and fully scientifically supported,”​ she said.

Italy’s anti-trust authority had ruled in 2013 that ad campaigns for Perfetti’s gum products could lead consumers to think that chewing sugar-free gum could be equally as beneficial as brushing with toothpaste. The TAR of Lazio accepted this argument.

Re said: “We totally reject the accusation, as our campaigns always and clearly claimed that ‘when brush and toothpaste are not available, Daygum can help you protect your teeth’”.

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