ASA Adjudication on ABF Grain Products Ltd
ABF Grain Products Ltd t/a
10 Grosvenor Street
19 September 2012
National press, Internet (on own site)
Food and drink
Number of complaints:
M&C Saatchi (UK) Ltd
Summary of Council descision:
Three issues were investigated, all were Not upheld.
a. A poster for Allinson's wholemeal batch loaf, was headed "Thomas Allinson, Rebel, Maverick, Baker". Further text stated, "The Wholemeal Pioneer - Thomas Allinson as a true visionary. A man who fervently believed that 'Brown bread is not a luxury, but a necessity to every family'. So, with typical Victorian zeal, he bought his own flour mill to create the pure whole grain flour at the heart of an Allinson loaf". Under the heading "Allinson Today" text stated, "Happily, Thomas succeeded in his crusade to bring wholemeal to the whole nation and, while much has changed since those days, the bread still contains whole grain, still has no artificial preservatives and is still the mainstay of a nutritious diet. But, just as importantly, his spirit for healthy eating lives on in everything we make". The poster featured a picture of some bread dough being kneaded by hand and a sack of flour.
b. The Allinson's website featured a "Range" page headed "A taste of tradition today". It showed four Allison products: Wholemeal Batch Loaf, Sunflower & Pumpkin Batch loaf, Brown Batch with the taste of sourdough and 6 brown snack rolls. Clicking on each product accessed that product's information page. A webpage headed "How it all began" stated, "Today we take the benefits of wholemeal pretty much for granted. But back in the Victorian era it was a different story. One man who bucked the trend and energetically championed the healthy eating cause was Thomas Allinson. So much so, in fact, that in 1892 he bought his first mill to create the pure whole grain flour at the heart of the Allinson loaf". A further web page on the site was headed "Mr Thomas Allinson - The Wholemeal Revolutionary".
The Real Bread Campaign challenged whether:
1. the image of bread being kneaded by hand in ad (a) misleadingly implied that Allinson's bread was made by hand;
2. the use of "wholemeal" throughout the advertising was misleading, because they believed that not all the flour used to make Allinson's "wholemeal" bread was wholemeal; and
3. the claim "the bread ... still has no artificial preservatives" in ad (a) was misleading.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
1. ABF Grain Products Ltd (ABF) said ad (a) was part of a relaunch of the Allison bread brand, where the intention was to make consumers aware of the forgotten story of Thomas Allison. Ad (a) told the story of Thomas Allison and how he purchased his own flour mill; it also referred to his revolutionary zeal to bring wholemeal to the whole nation. To illustrate the story, all of the images used were selected to evoke the Victorian period. The images of a sack of flour, a Victorian gentleman, dough being hand kneaded and a tinned loaf on a bread board; as well as the layout and font, which were all intended to be evocative of this period. None of the images were intended to be representative of how ABF made their breads today. In order to ensure that consumers were not misled, the image of dough being kneaded by hand was carefully positioned next to text which stated, "… while much has changed from those days ..." At no point did ad (a) state that Allison bread was still kneaded by hand today.
2. ABF said that their use of the term "wholemeal" was not misleading and was in line with the requirements of the Bread and Flour Regulations 1998 (the Regulations). Under the Regulations, all the flour used in the making of "wholemeal" bread must be 100% wholemeal flour. In accordance with the Regulations, the only flours used to make Allison wholemeal bread (wholemeal wheat flour and malted barley flour) were 100% wholemeal.
3. ABF confirmed that there were no artificial preservatives present in the bread. In foods where these were present there was a legal requirement to declare them in the ingredient list as "Preservative" followed by the name or 'E number'.
The Real Bread Campaign objected to the word "still" in this claim because they believed it implied that Allinson's bread has never contained preservatives, which they understood was not the case. We put this objection to ABF, who said the claim made a comparison between the bread made in Victorian times with the bread made today – it did not refer to all of the recipes changes that may have occurred in the interim. Because the bread made today did not contain preservatives, they believed the claim was accurate and not misleading.
1. Not upheld
The ASA noted the image of dough being kneaded by hand in ad (a). However, in light of the Victorian style of the ad and the other images used, including the Victorian gentleman and the sack of flour, we considered that consumers would understand the ad was making references to the history of the company. An image of the contemporary Allinson wholemeal loaf was displayed at the foot of the ad. We considered that this was a recognisable brand that consumers would be familiar with and understand was a mass produced loaf. We did not consider that the average consumer would infer from the ad that Allinson loaves were made by hand today. We therefore concluded that ad (a) was not misleading on this point.
On this point we investigated ad (a) under CAP Code (Edition12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation) but did not find it in breach.
2. Not Upheld
The bread contained wheat flour and malted barley flour, which were 100% wholemeal. We therefore considered that the references to "wholemeal" were not misleading. We noted that the product also contained oat bran, wheat protein and soya flour, but because we understood that these were not flours for the purposes of the Bread and Flour Regulations 1998, we considered that their inclusion did not invalidate the wholemeal claim.
On this point we investigated the complaint under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation) but did not find it in breach.
3. Not upheld
The ad stated "... while much has changed since those days, the bread still contains the whole grain, still has no artificial preservatives ...". We noted the complainant's objection to this claim on the grounds that they understood the loaf contained additives. However, we considered that consumers would differentiate claims that a product was free from artificial additives and claims that it was free from artificial preservatives. Because the claim referred specifically to preservatives, and we understood that the product contained no artificial preservatives, we considered the claim was not misleading on this point.
We noted that the complainant believed the word "still" implied that Allinson's loaves had never contained preservatives and because they understood that this was not the case, the ad was misleading. However we considered that the average consumer would understand the claim was a comparison between the original Allinson loaf and the current one. Because we understood that the current loaf contained no artificial preservatives, we concluded that the claim was not misleading.
Investigated under CAP Code (Edition12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (substantiation) and 15.1 (Food, food supplements and associated health and nutritional claims).
No further action necessary.