Dutch watchdog vetoes ad for mushroom’s immune strengthening properties

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags: Instagram, mushrooms, Advertising

The Dutch Advertising Code Commission (Stichting Reclame Code) is warning the creators of an Instagram post that claiming mushroom nutrients can strengthen the immune system and are antiviral will not be tolerated.

In a recent notification​,​ the Commission requests Dutch online retailers ‘mycophilia.nl’ to stop marketing the product in its current form, which uses unfounded health claims in its advertising.

According to the authority, the offending statement uses the current pandemic to suggest the mushrooms have immune-strengthening properties, which they say have not been scientifically proven.

“At the moment it is important to pay attention to a balanced healthy diet with many vital substances,” ​the statement reads.

“Our mushrooms are not only very tasty but also very healthy, they are high in fiber, low in fat, rich in important vitamins, enzymes, minerals and trace elements.

“They also contain substances that can strengthen the immune system and have an anti-viral effect. We have put together a delicious mushroom blend that is not only good for resistance but is also fantastic for cooking.”

In response, the retailers stated they were not claiming its mushrooms were working against the virus, adding that they had placed an appeal to “save the mushrooms from the trash can”.

They also took the step to remove text highlighting shiitake mushroom’s claimed ability to strengthen the immune system.

The retailers also referred to a publication on immune cells demonstrating the mushroom’s efficacy.

However, the commission pointed out the study was sponsored by the mushroom industry and did not go into detail about the mushroom’s antiviral activity.

Ruling reasoning

In summarising the reasoning behind the final ruling, the commission’s chairman said the mushroom’s alleged antiviral claim is not permitted under current nutrition regulations.

“Article 7 paragraph 4 in conjunction with Article 7 paragraph 3 of Regulation (EU) 1169/2011 does not allow statements that claim or allude to certain properties of foods as preventing, treating or curing a human disease. The statement is in conflict with this.

“The alleged antiviral effect concerns the prevention of a disease,”​ the chairman adds. “It can be left open as to whether this is coronavirus or another viral disease.”

The chairman also highlighted the claim that mushrooms can strengthen the immune system as contrary to Regulation (EC) No. 1924/2006, specifically Article 10 paragraph 1.

Whilst credit was given to the retailer's action in removing the text stating the mushroom’s immune strengthening abilities, the chairman pointed out there was still references to the immune system, namely by the words, “good for the resistance”.

In addition, it was not clear whether the advertiser would still use the antiviral claim.

“On that, the contested advertisements are in violation of Article 2 NRC. The chairman recommends that the advertiser no longer advertises in such a way,”​ the ruling concludes.

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