ASA Ruling on sit-up Ltd
sit-up Ltd t/a
Price Drop TV
Unit 11 Acton Park Industrial Estate
30 January 2013
Number of complaints:
Summary of Council decision.
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
A teleshopping presentation on Bid TV for cleaning liquid included a close up of the product packaging which stated "Blue Magic ... makes up to 50 litres of multi-surface cleaner". On-screen text included "Blue Magic Cleaning Solution - 2x 500ml bottles, Mixer Bottle, Spray Nozzle and Measuring Cup". The presenter and guest presenter made various statements about the product including, "You can get 100 bottles out of these two bottles", "All it does is clear, and it’s not even going to damage your hands, don't need to wear gloves, I mean if you've got really … ultra-sensitive skin, like anything you've got to check but I mean, look at this [sprays on hands] I got my hands here, no gloves at all, I don't need any gloves. It's absolutely completely safe ... no nasty chemicals, no fumes at all" and the question from the presenter, "I put my barbecue away the other day It was minging. It took a while to clean, could you use that on a barbecue, carbon and stuff like that?", to which the guest presenter replied "Yes absolutely a barbecue, carbon ... you can do your ovens as well ... let it break down for a sec then collect it with your cloth ... whilst it's breaking down the food, just do the kitchen floor, do the tables, it's completely food safe so you can even use chopping boards on this, it's that safe, honestly." The presenter also asked, "So it will clean up and sanitise a chopping board?", to which the reply was, "Yes, no problem." The presentation featured various products including stained carpets and messy hobs being cleaned with the diluted product.
The complainant challenged whether:
1. the claims that the product was skin friendly and safe for food preparation areas were misleading and therefore irresponsible; and
2. the presentation exaggerated the efficacy of the diluted product.
1. Sit-up Ltd t/a Bid TV (Sit-up) said that all chemical products had to have a warning on the bottle stating that they were an irritant because the contents could irritate some parts of the body, like the eyes, and also because different skin types would react differently. They said that in its undiluted form, the product was classified as an irritant and that the demonstration had been advised to state this. They said that although it had been supplied to large cleaning companies as food safe when diluted, there was no independent testing to verify this and that the demonstrator would refrain from making such claims in the future. They also stated that they did not hold evidence concerning the use of the product around animal-eating areas and again confirmed such claims would not be made in the future.
2. Sit-up stated that their supplier had advised that the product had been around for 26 years and had been used by various industries, including the food industry, who would have tested the product to their satisfaction due to the levels of hygiene required. They said the product contained two main cleaning agents triethanolamine and sodium nitrilotriacetic acid. They said triethanolamine was a surface acting agent commonly known as a surfactant and that it broke the surface tension down between the dirt and the surface it cleaned. They said that sodium nitrilotriacetic acid was used a detergent builder and cleaner. They said the efficacy of the diluted product depended on the degree of soiling but that it was a concentrated heavy duty cleaner which allowed customers to use the desired strength on light, medium or heavy stains. They said the instructions on each bottle showed three levels of stains and how much concentrate was required, which was then measured using the supplied measuring cap, topped up with water to 500ml and then applied using the hairspray applicator which was supplied with the offer. They said the bottle stated that the light concentration could be used for light cleaning of paintwork, worktops and dusty floors and the medium concentration for stains such as tea, coffee, some wines and fizzy drinks. Finally, they said the heavy concentration was for use on heavy dirt, grease and grime and some harder to remove stains from carpets.
Whilst product labelling may have required the contents to be labelled as an irritant because they contained chemicals, the ASA was not provided with evidence to substantiate the claims that Blue Magic Cleaning Solution was unlikely to irritate the skin or was suitable for use on food preparation surfaces. We therefore considered the implied claims that the product would not irritate sensitive skin (and that there was no need to wear gloves during cleaning), contained no chemicals and was suitable for use on food preparation services could potentially encourage unsafe practice when using the product and concluded that the ad was irresponsible.
On this point the ad breached BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Social responsibility), 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.9 (Substantiation) and 4.4 (Harm and offence).
We understood the product was designed to be used in different concentrations based on the type of stain or soil being cleaned. We also understood the demonstration in the ad was used in line with the manufacturer's instructions. However, evidence was not supplied to substantiate the claims that the stain removal shown in the demonstration was likely to be achieved by the product either in a diluted or undiluted form when used by consumers. We therefore concluded that the efficacy claims had not been substantiated and that the ad was misleading.
On this point the ad breached BCAP Code rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.9 (Substantiation) and 3.12 (Exaggeration).
The ad should not appear again in its current form. We told Sit-Up to take care when making claims about safety of cleaning products and to ensure it held robust evidence for efficacy claims.