ASA rejects supplement Instagram ads and health links

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

©JST Nutrition
©JST Nutrition

Related tags: Asa, Jodie Marsh, JST Nutrition

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has rejected advertisements by a UK-based food supplement retailer, which used social media to state its products could prevent, treat or cure human disease.

JST Nutrition, owned by UK media personality Jodie Marsh, fell foul of the country’s advertising codes that communications suggested or implied a relationship between a food, drink or ingredient and health.

Other ads featured on Marsh’s Instagram account could not be identified as marketing communications by the ASA.

“The ASA was concerned by Jodie Marsh's lack of substantive response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was [also] a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay),” ​ASA stated.

“We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a substantive response to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.”

Seven posts on Marsh's account for JST Nutrition Ltd, a food supplement retailer, based in Brentwood Essex, were seen between 28 December 2020 and 11 January 2021.

The single complainant objected to the first post that featured an image of three containers labelled “tonex”, “neptox”,​ and “hebex”,​ with a caption that stated, “These are the three things I personally take every day … Tonex I take for burning fat … Hebex I take for my skin, hair and nails …”.

‘Good genes and Hebex’

The second post featured an image of Marsh in a bikini, shown from the neck down, with a caption that stated, “Do you suffer with IBS or bloating?? Try Neptox!! ...”.

Another post featuring Marsh used a caption that stated, “People always say I don’t look 42. I personally think it’s down to good genes and Hebex – Hebex is my amazing collagen tablet. I take it for skin, hair and nails …”.

Other posts used the captions, “I take Hebex every day. It’s a collagen tablet … I believe it gives me flawless skin. It also makes my hair and nails grow quicker,” and, “Everyone is always asking how my skin is so good. I believe it’s because I take Hebex every day. It’s a collagen that your body can actually process … and it also helps your hair and nails to grow quicker!! … I also take Tonex every day which is a fat burner … And I also take Neptox every day as I bloat a lot when I eat, and I believe it helps stop this. People with IBS – try it!!!”.

In its ruling ASA expressed disappointment with the firm’s response to the ruling saying, “JST Nutrition Ltd said that they believed the claims in the ads complied with the relevant Regulations but that they would check them to ensure compliance going forward.

“Jodie Marsh acknowledged receipt of the complaint but did not provide a substantive response.”

In a breakdown of ASA’s final decision, the authority pointed out that only health claims listed as authorised on the EU Register of nutrition and health claims made on foods (the EU Register) were permitted in marketing communications published on or before 31 December 2020.

From 1 January 2021, only health claims authorised on the Great Britain nutrition and health claims (NHC) register (the GB Register) were permitted in marketing communications.

‘Not seen evidence’

“We considered the claims “Tonex … for burning fat”, “Tonex … is a fat burner”, “Hebex … for my skin, hair and nails” and “Hebex … helps your hair and nails to grow quicker” to be specific health claims for the purposes of the Code,”​ ASA said.

“However, we had not seen any evidence which demonstrated that those claims were authorised on either the EU Register or the GB Register, or that JST Nutrition’s products met the conditions of use associated with any authorised claims.

ASA also added that some of the posts contained explicit references to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and that taking the product could alleviate the symptoms of IBS, and therefore treat that condition.

They considered these disease treatment claims for a food supplement were in breach of the code.

Finally, ASA considered both Marsh and JST Nutrition as being jointly responsible for ensuring that promotional activity conducted on Marsh’s account promoting JST Nutrition was compliant with the CAP Code.

ASA noted the posts did not feature a label such as “#ad” ​identifying them to consumers as marketing communications and concluded this was a breach of the code.

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