ASA rules turmeric and vit A claims overstep advertising code

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

©RTImages
©RTImages
A raft of British firms continue to test the boundaries of UK supplement advertising as the Advertising Standards Authority take action over health claims used to market joint health and weight loss products.

UK-based New Nordic were reprimanded over claims its Blue Berry Eyebright Plus Mega-Strength tablets improved eye health.

Its magazine advertisement for Blue Berry Eyebright Plus Mega-Strength one-a-day tablets, which contain vitamin A, zinc and lutein, was in breach of the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP) code.

“The ads must not appear again in their current form,”​ said the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

“We told New Nordic Ltd not to state or imply that Blue Berry Eyebright plus could improve vision or to make any eye-related health claims for the product, apart from health claims authorised on the EU Register.

“We also told them to ensure that they did not imply that the product could prevent or treat human disease.”

Melissa Dream claims misleading  

ASA
©ASA

New Nordic were also in trouble over claims its “Melissa Dream” supplement contaiing lemon balm (Melissa officinalis​) could boost the quality of sleep – a known risk factor for weight gain.  

New Nordic said they had used claims for the lemon balm, which were “on hold” by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for approval. Efforts to provide supporting studies in support of those claims were also dismissed by the ASA.

“Further, we told them not to state or imply that Melissa Dream could improve the quality of sleep or to make any sleep-related health claims for the product, apart from health claims authorised on the EU Register,” ​they said.

“We told them not to make general health claims for either product unless they were accompanied by a specific authorised health claim.”

New Nordic said they would amend the wording for the claims about both Vitamin A and zinc to the correct wording authorised in the EU Register of nutrition and health claims made on foods (the EU Register). They also agreed to delete claims made about lutein and Vitamin A.

Claims, which related to weight and weight loss, would also be deleted for its Melissa dream product.

Turmeric (un)truths

Cambridge Nutraceuticals Ltd (trading as ‘FutureYou’) were also in hot water with its assertions that that consumption of turmeric food supplements support healthy joints.

A press ad promoting its food supplement Turmeric+ used the claim "Support Healthy Joints with TURMERIC+" alongside an image of the product which included the claims "supports healthy joints" and "helps maintain flexible joints".

Cambridge Nutraceuticals said the claims were based on a highly bioavailable patented Meriva formulation in addition to a body of research. They believing the evidence available was such that they could make the claims.

They understood that those claims were permissible as “on hold” claims subject to the transition measures in Article 28 (5) of the Regulation, which required them to comply with existing national provisions applicable to them.

ASA disagreed with these assumptions, ruling that the ad could not appear again in its current form adding that the use on-hold claims in their marketing was forbidden unless they held evidence that substantiated the claims.

Healthspan in hot water

Turmeric health claims also landed Healthspan in hot water as the Guernsey-based vitamin and supplements supplier incorrectly attributed health claims about Vitamin C to turmeric, making misleading and exaggerated claims that turmeric provided health benefits for joints.

In a press ad promoting its supplement "Opti-Turmeric", Healthspan used the headline “Turmeric absorption unlocked”, along with the words "Opti-Turmeric. Optimal absorption curcumin. Support cartilage formation and immune health."

In the small print, the footnote stated, "Vitamin C has also been added to support cartilage formation and immune health".

The ad also used the words "EASILY ABSORBED, FAST ACTING JOINT SUPPORT", with an accompanying footnote that read, “Pending EC Claim ID4012 ‘helps maintain the health of joints and bones.’”

Text within the main body of the ad stated, “Turmeric is rich in a natural compound called curcumin, which many scientists and food health experts believe can offer joint health support”. Further text stated, “Vitamin C has also been added to support cartilage formation and immune health”.

ASA instructed Healthspan not to use the ad again in its current form instructing Healthspan to “ensure that health claims were clearly attributed to the relevant substance”.

“We told them to ensure they retained the meaning of any health claims if they reworded them, and did not exaggerate them.

“We also told them not to use on-hold claims unless they held adequate evidence that substantiated the claims.”

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