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Warning on nutrition claims as watchdog says Nestlé ad misleading

By staff writer , 18-Oct-2005

Dairy players must beware of misleading nutrition claims as the UK's advertising watchdog upholds a complaint against Nestle propelled by the country's vegan society.

 

The Vegan Society and a member of the public approached the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about a claim made in an Nestle advertorial on AOL's website.

One paragraph in the advert was headed "Dairy Products" and stated "Essential for healthy bones ...".

Aimed at women and featuring Nestle's Sveltesse Optimise dairy drink complainants objected to the ad, claiming it was misleading because 'it is not necessary to eat dairy products to obtain healthy bones.'

The ASA ruled that the use of the word "essential" implied dairy products were the only source of calcium.

"We concluded that the advertorial was likely to mislead and advised Nestlé to amend the claim,"said the watchdog.

Defending its advert, Nestlé UK said they recognised there were other sources of calcium and they "had not intended to suggest that dairy products were the only source of calcium."

But, according to ASA, the number one food maker in the world asserted that dairy products were particularly rich sources of calcium, and the most widely consumed source.

"They argued that dairy products were regarded as the primary source of calcium by both the public and nutritionists. Nestlé said they had therefore used the term "essential" to highlight the importance of dairy product's contribution to calcium intake and healthy bones," reports ASA.

"Manufacturers and agencies that promote cow's milk products will have to be far more careful in the future," said London nutritionist Yvonne Bishop-Weston.

Recent nutrition profiling proposals from the UK's Food Standards Agency that would put milk in the same health bracket as diet coke and make breast milk unsuitable for children, have been heavily criticised by the dairy industry.

Dairy UK said it had serious concerns about the FSA's plans, which say whole, semi-skimmed and flavoured milk have the same health value as diet fizzy drinks. All received a zero score.

The FSA profiling proposal, developed at the end of July, used zero as a benchmark, with positive scores indicating unhealthy products and minus scores pointing to healthier options.

"We question the omission of micronutrients such as protein quality, minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium, as well as vitamins A and B," said Ed Komorowski, Dairy UK's technical director, as part of an FSA consultation period that ended in September.

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