Claims on www.amber-teething-necklaces.co.uk promoted amber teething necklaces. Text on the "Questions & Answers" page was sub-headed "Facts" and stated "Amber stores static electricity, named elektron by the ancient Greeks. Elektron evolved into the English. Amber is warm against the skin ..." Further text was sub-headed "What research has been done on Amber?" and stated "The active ingredient in Baltic amber is succinic acid, which was analysed by the pioneer of modern bacteriology and Nobel-prize winner Robert Koch (1886). He confirmed its positive influences and discovered that there is no risk of the accumulation of surplus amounts of succinic acid in the human organism. Recent scientific research has also proved that succinic acid has a very positive influence on the human organism, it strengthens the body, improves immunity, the course of energy-related processes and the balance of acids. Current research shows that the micronization of amber improves its assimilation by the stress-weakened organism of the contemporary man. The unfavorable [sic] environmental conditions prevailing today block the natural flow of energy-related processes in cells. Blocks affect cellular metabolism and significantly weaken the immune system, but the natural energy of amber is able to stimulate its renewal.
The complainant challenged whether the following claims were misleading and could be substantiated:
1. "Amber stores static electricity", because they understood it could donate electrons but did not store electricity;
2. "Succinic acid has a very positive influence on the human organism, ilt [sic] strengthens the body, improves immunity";
3. "Current research shows that the micronization of amber improves its assimilation by the stress-weakened organism of the contemporary man"; and
4. "The unfavorable environmental conditions prevailing today block the natural flow of energy-related processes in cells. Blocks affect cellular metabolism and significantly weaken the immune system, but the natural energy of amber is able to stimulate its renewal".
1. – 4. Amber-Teething-Necklaces.co.uk said the claims were well-known facts about amber and supporting information could be found all over the Internet.
1. – 4. Upheld
The ASA noted that the advertiser had not provided any detail as to where supporting evidence could be found online, nor what form that documentation took. We considered that the ad's claims implied that the amber in the amber teething necklaces stored static electricity and provided health benefits, such as strengthening the body and immune system. Because we had not seen any evidence in support of those claims, we concluded that they were misleading.
The claims breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation.
Marketing communications must not mislead consumers by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product.
Objective claims must be backed by evidence, if relevant consisting of trials conducted on people. Substantiation will be assessed on the basis of the available scientific knowledge.
Medicinal or medical claims and indications may be made for a medicinal product that is licensed by the MHRA, VMD or under the auspices of the EMA, or for a CE-marked medical device. A medicinal claim is a claim that a product or its constituent(s) can be used with a view to making a medical diagnosis or can treat or prevent disease, including an injury, ailment or adverse condition, whether of body or mind, in human beings.
Secondary medicinal claims made for cosmetic products as defined in the appropriate European legislation must be backed by evidence. These are limited to any preventative action of the product and may not include claims to treat disease. (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).
The claims must not appear again in their current form.