A web page describing Bassetts Blackcurrant and Apple flavour multivitamins, seen on www.bassettsvitamins.co.uk in June 2017, stated “No added sugar”.
The complainant challenged the claim “no added sugar”, because they believed that the product did not meet the conditions of use to carry the relevant nutrition claim.
Ernest Jackson & Co Ltd t/a Bassetts Vitamins (Bassetts) said that it was clear from the Annex of EC Regulation 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods (the Regulation) that products containing mono- or disaccharides could not make a claim of “no added sugar”. They noted that the complainant believed that the product did not meet the conditions of use because it contained maltitol and sucralose. While there was no defined legislation of what a monosaccharide or disaccharide was, several regulatory and scientific bodies did provide some examples. The European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values provided examples of mono- and disaccharides, which did not include sucralose or maltitol. The document listed maltitol separately as a “polyol”, and did not include sucralose. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) provided a similar, if non-exhaustive list, which also did not include maltitol or sucralose. Furthermore, Bassetts said that sugar was classified as a food product/ingredient under EU Regulation 231/2012 on the purity criteria for food additives, whereas maltitol and sucralose were classified as “additives”. The definition of “sugars” in EU Regulation 1169/2011 on the provision of food information stated “all monosaccharides and disaccharides present in food, but excludes polyols”.
Bassetts said that, from a scientific point of view, sugars were composed of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen. All were broken down by the body and all had calorific value. They contributed to tooth decay and had diabetic implications associated with them. Although it was derived from sucrose (a sugar), sucralose was composed of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and chlorine. It was not recognised by the body as a sugar, was not calorific, did not contribute to tooth decay, and was safe for diabetics.
Bassetts also stated that under EU Regulation 1129/2011 sucralose was explicitly permitted in many food categories labelled as “reduced energy” or “no added sugar”. Based on the above, they were confident that the product met the conditions of use for the claim “no added sugar”.
The ASA noted that, according to the Regulation, which was reflected in the CAP Code, only nutrition claims listed in the Annex of the Regulation (the Annex) were permitted in ads promoting foods, and that marketers must ensure that they met the conditions of use associated with the claims in question. We also noted that nutrition claims were defined in the Regulation as any claim which stated, suggested or implied that a food had particular beneficial nutritional properties, including due to the nutrients or other substances it contained, contained in reduced or increased proportions, or did not contain.
We considered that the claim “no added sugar” was a nutrition claim for the purposes of the Regulation, which was likely to have the same meaning to consumers as the permitted nutrition claim “with no added sugars”. According to the conditions of use associated with the relevant nutrition claim, it could only be made where the product did not contain any added mono- or disaccharides or any other food used for its sweetening properties.
We noted that both maltitol and sucralose were classified as sweeteners by the FSA. We understood that the addition of sweeteners alone was likely to comply with the conditions of use for the claim in question in that they were not foods, and were therefore not “food[s] used for [their] sweetening purposes”. For that reason, we concluded that the product met the conditions of use for the permitted nutrition claim “with no added sugars”, and did not breach the Code.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications that contain nutrition or health claims must be supported by documentary evidence to show they meet the conditions of use associated with the relevant claim, as specified in the EU Register. Claims must be presented clearly and without exaggeration.
Only nutrition claims listed in the updated Annex of the EU Regulation (as reproduced in the EU Register) may be used in marketing communications.
Only health claims listed as authorised in the EU Register, or claims that would have the same meaning to the consumer may be used in marketing communications.
http://www.ec.europa.eu/food/food/labellingnutrition/claims/community_register/authorised_health_claims_en.htm. (Food, food supplements and associated health or nutrition claims), but did not find it in breach.
No further action required.