Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.

What is detoxing?

Marketers have tried in the past to establish that the human body accumulates toxins that can be purged. CAP and the ASA understand that the body’s liver and kidneys automatically detoxify and excrete many toxic materials, including metabolic wastes, and has not seen evidence to support the theory that toxins can be removed from the body by other means.

Which types of claims are likely to be problematic?

Advertisers have previously made detoxing claims for foot pads, patches and devices. To date, neither CAP nor the ASA has seen evidence that those types of products can remove toxins from the body. If marketers do not hold clinical trial evidence to support claims about this type of product, detoxing and similar claims are likely to be problematic.

Claims that products such as wraps can aid weight loss as a result of flushing away toxins or which suggest that an accumulation of toxins can lead to adverse medical conditions are also likely to be problematic without a robust body of evidence.   See this CAP Guidance for the types and levels of evidence that would need to be held.

In 2012 the ASA upheld complaints about a sports clothing ad in which it was claimed that by wearing the shorts during exercise, users would “flush out fat cells and toxins”. The advertisers were unable to substantiate the claims and the ASA deemed them misleading (Celu-Lite Ltd t/a Zaggora, 22 August 2012).

CAP recommends that marketers seek advice from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to establish whether detoxing and associated claims for patches, wraps and clothing are medical claims.  Marketers are reminded that if an ad includes medical claims about the products, they would likely need to be certified and registered as medical devices.

What about claims in relations to foods?

Marketers of food supplements should be aware that general detox claims made in relation to a food product are likely to be considered health claims for the purposes of Section 15 of the CAP Code (Pukka Herbs, 16 May 2018).

The ASA have previously ruled that more specific detoxing claims, such as a claim that a food product detoxes the colon, will be treated as a specific health claim and only acceptable if the claim appears on the GB (NHC) Register (Lean Muscle X, 21 August 2013).

See Food: General Health Claims, Food: Health claims, Detoxing and lymphatic drainage and Therapies:  Colon hydrotherapy.


More on