Health claim fail: ASA gives UK smoothie firm rough ride
Last May, the online juice, smoothie and health food retailer was told by the ASA to amend statements like the one that its ‘Bloody Marvellous’ beetroot drink could “cleanse the blood”.
At the time it said, “We do not seek to profit from health concerns, and we are willing to make changes. We agree with the ruling, and would never wish to mislead a customer.”
Now, Scotland-based Juice Garden has fallen foul of the law again, for making claims on its website that its ‘Soup’er Salad’ apple, celery, tomato, spinach and carrot juice was a “cancer deterrent” and that its Sherbet Lemonade “relieves respiratory problems”, “cures throat infections” and “reduces fever”.
In a decision published yesterday [15 June], the ASA ruled these statements were “claims that stated or implied that the drinks prevented, treated or cured human disease, which were prohibited under the CAP [Committee of Advertising Practice] Code and were therefore unacceptable.”
The watchdog ruled that a number of claims on the company’s site were subject to the European nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR), as they were health claims or reduction of disease risk claims. These included statements like “excellent for weight loss”, “increases blood production”, “good for your heart” and “antioxidant repair”.
However, as none of these are on the EU’s authorised list of claims, the ASA concluded they breached the advertising industry’s rulebook.
“We noted that we had seen no evidence that the health claims and reduction of disease risk claims were authorised on the EU Register for the products or any of the constitutent ingredients.
"Furthermore, the general health claims were not accompanied by specific authorised heath claims. We therefore concluded that the ad breached the code,” said the ASA in its ruling.
No such nutrition claims
The ASA also upheld complaints that Juice Garden was making nutrition claims that were not in compliance with the NHCR. It ruled that claims such as “high in potassium”, “protein rich” , “kale per calorie has more iron than beef and more calcium than milk” implied a nutritional benefit, but were not nutrition or comparative nutrition claims as listed in the NHCR and were, therefore, in breach of EU food law.
Kat Paton, spokesperson for Juice Garden, told NutraIngredients that a lot of the information was intended as “fun facts”, for example the statement about the iron content in kale per calorie being more than beef.
Juice Garden was ordered to remove the claims from its site, which it says it has since done. “In our communications we previously highlighted the health benefits of the plant based ingredients in our juices,” Paton said.
“The ASA does not approve and therefore we have removed the content and simply have our menu and a list of the ingredients.”
Despite the ban she defended her company’s actions: “The health benefits of all of our plant-based ingredients were compiled from research, the terminology was never intended to be used to cause offence or to mislead, but to educate about the health benefits of the ingredients in our juices – not to promote our juices as medicine.”
With two retail outlets in Glasgow, Scotland, Juice Garden was founded in July 2014 as an alternative to conventional city centre fast food outlets. It serves freshly extracted fruit and vegetable based juices and smoothies, as well as sandwiches, soups, salads, raw desserts and acai bowls, and operates a delivery service.