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.
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is the common name for a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are available in concentrated dietary supplement form or as an ingredient in various other supplements. Both the ASA and CAP have seen extravagant claims for products containing CLA, including assertions that they can help fat loss, maintain weight loss, return lean mass, help to make the body more toned, help to maintain the optimum balance between body fat and muscle and, even, fight cancer.
CLA is classed as a food supplement and is therefore subject to the rules set out in Section 15 of the CAP Code. Claims which relate to weight and any claims which directly relate to an effect on one’s health are likely to fall under Section 15 of the Code. Article 2 of Regulation (EC) 1924/2006 on Nutrition and Health claims made for Foods, defines a health claim as “any claim that states, suggests or implies that a relationship exists between a food category, a food or one of its constituents and health...”
The requirements of the regulation are very strict in terms of the permissible wording of health claims. Health claims must be presented clearly and without exaggeration. The ASA is likely to investigate a complaint about a stated health claim which does not have the same meaning as an authorised claim which is listed on the GB Register. Furthermore, a product should be marketed in accordance with the conditions of use for that specific claim.
CAP understands that at present, there are no authorised claims for CLA that exist on GB NHC Register. As a result, marketers should avoid making health claims for CLA without obtaining legal advice.
Furthermore, marketers should be aware that claims to treat obesity and other medical conditions are prohibited for all foods (Rule 15.6.2)