Consumers warned of sports nutrition products making coronavirus claims

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags coronavirus ESSNA Sports nutrition

The European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA) has warned consumers of the increase in companies and individuals making unfounded claims in light of the current coronavirus situation.

In a strongly worded statement, the Alliance highlights those claiming to provide treatment or care for the coronavirus are very likely to be ‘non-compliant with the law.’

ESSNA also adds these firms are taking advantage of the ongoing crisis by making misleading and dangerous claims to benefit themselves financially.

“It is essential to remember that sports nutrition products in Europe are very tightly regulated, but as with any other industry, unfortunately a few unscrupulous individuals exist and flout the law. ESSNA is working diligently alongside the authorities to address this,”​ they say.

“If a product is promising something that seems too good to be true, it most probably is. Make sure to buy your products from reputable retailers and check for the ESSNA member kitemark.

“We urge you to avoid suspicious-looking websites and products which claim to provide protection from the Covid-19 virus and to report misleading products to ESSNA so that we can investigate the issue further.”

Unfounded omega-3 industry claims

ESSNA’s comments come as NutraIngredients reported​ on similar remarks made by Global Organisation for EPA and DHA (GOED), who reminded Omega-3 firms about the dangers of making immunity claims during the crisis.

The Organisation said there was an ‘insufficient body of scientific literature to connect EPA/DHA to benefits of either positive general or viral immunity outcomes in a healthy population.’

Closer to home, Italy’s Competition and Market Authority (AGCM) ordered​ an online retailer to stop using preventive claims against the coronavirus to sell supplement, cosmetic and detergent products.

The Authority said it had started an investigation into the activities of a Naples-based website and its related Instagram pages that used the hashtag ‘#coronavirus’ and statements describing the product’s antiviral capabilities and efficacy in tackling the COVID-19 virus.

While these incidences refer to products aimed at the ordinary consumer, ESSNA makes reference to this practice within the sports nutrition sector, making clear that no sports nutrition product has been proven to aid, treat or cure Covid-19.

“It is natural and encouraging that sports nutrition consumers are looking for ways to supplement their diet and maintain active lifestyles,”​ ESSNA says.

“By taking the right sports nutrition products, combined with a healthy diet and exercise, you can successfully maintain a healthy lifestyle, which may help to strengthen your immune system.”

“ESSNA is closely monitoring the quickly evolving situation and aims to make sure that the industry and consumers are kept informed about all Covid-19 developments, advising how the sector is affected and how consumers can protect themselves.”

Intro sports nutrition guide  

In related news the Alliance has made available an introductory guide to sports nutrition and how it can best be applied during the ongoing situation.

The guide​ is especially relevant to Europeans staying indoors, who need a source of information to help start supplementing a healthy lifestyle with sports nutrition at home.

The publication also outlines the main types of nutrients that can maintain nutritional needs, as well as advice on how to avoid unsafe consumption of sports nutrition products.

“This is a useful and practical guide, suited to equip beginners with knowledge and a means of staying physically active during these difficult times,”​ says Dr Adam Carey, the chair of ESSNA.

“Throughout this difficult period, ESSNA is committed to being responsible and encouraging people to adapt their habits in order to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

“We understand the challenges presented by the ongoing Covid-19 crisis and we would like to help all members of society in any way we can,”​ he adds.

“Exercise remains as important as ever at times like these, and our aim is to cut through the myriad of misinformation available on the internet to provide Europeans, particularly those that are new to the world of sports nutrition, with a set of safe, simple and educational steps to get them started.

“ESSNA’s priority is, of course, the safety of its consumers and we are continuing to work on material that can help the European consumer stay active and healthy. We urge everyone to ensure they abide by government advice and minimise contact as much as possible.”

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