Italy’s ad regulator bans question posed on cranberry supplement’s anti-infective claim

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Italy’s advertising watchdog has ruled an ad that posed the question, "Infections of the urinary tract?" as misleading to consumers regarding the product’s ability to prevent cystitis.

The committee sitting on the country’s Institute of Advertising Self-Regulation (IAP) ruled the question led consumers to believe the product could be a solution for situations of a pathological nature.

“It would also be inappropriate for the claimed action of prevention of cystitis, where the intake of 36 milligrams (mg) of Proanthocyanidins of type A for prolonged periods helps to prevent cystitis,”​ the ruling stated.

“A food supplement can boast only a contribution to the maintenance of the physiological state of the urinary tract and cannot refer to a therapeutic or preventive action.”

So far, (not) so good 

The ruling meant Sofar—makers of the Cistiflux A Plus 36 + D supplement—were ordered to stop advertising the product in its current form.

Defending the ad’s content the firm, a dietary supplement producer based on the outskirts of Milan, said that the alleged claim would merely be an application to introduce the blueberry properties contained in the advertised product. 

“All expressions of effectiveness of the message would in fact refer to this component, in support of which there are certain scientific references,” ​the firm said.

The Control Committee, which had requested the intervention of a jury, were unmoved arguing that the Sofar’s product demonstrated the effectiveness of the blueberry as a function of prevention of urinary tract infections.

In these terms, the body of the ad, according to the Jury, was sufficiently clear on the preventive properties of the cranberry.

Healing blueberries?

The jury also considered the headline "Infections of the urinary tract?”​ to be misleading as it could make the consumer believe the blueberry had properties not only of prevention, but also healing - properties that cannot be attributed to a food supplement.

“Although in the following text this declaration is somewhat rectified, the deceitfulness of the main claim remains, which commands the consumer's attention,”​ the jury said.

“The Jury, having examined the documents and hearing the parties, declares the communication examined is in conflict with art. 2 CA (Misleading commercial communication) limited to the phrase "Infections of the urinary tract?""

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