Claims on a webpage for nutritional microscopy in April 2011 stated: "How can nutritional microscopy benefit me? Answer: Nutritional microscopy provides an insightful view of the biological terrain and is an alternative medical examination routinely utilized by holistic, osteopathic, chiropractic and naturopathic physicians as well as other health care professionals around the world. The Microscopist and client together view the characteristics of the client's blood on a video screen. This information can assist you by: Showing patterns of disorganization and correlation those pattern to potential health challenges in the body in the body [sic]; Showing form and function of red/white blood cells and plasma; Monitoring your specific condition; before and after any health program/regiment thereby taking the guesswork out of determining diet effectiveness and the selection of appropriate foods and drinks; Gives an early warning of possible upcoming health challenges and therefore time to take action; Can help practitioner faster to arrive at a diagnosis; Can be used to maintain ‘Wellness’ and avoid ‘Sickness’; ... Can be used as ‘Preventative’ Medicine to avoid degenerative disease associated with ageing ... Question: What phenomenon can be observed? Answer: Relative level of acidity in the body fluid and the effects these acids have on the body. Relative activity of the immune system and condition; of the Red Blood Cells; General organ ‘stress’; Presence of parasites, bacteria, yeast fungus, and mold; Blood sugar imbalances; Malabsorption of fat, proteins and other nutrients; Crystalline forms of morbid matter, acids, cholesterol, and mycotoxins; Degenerative stress and gastrointestinal tract dysfunction".
The complainant challenged whether the efficacy claims made for the test were misleading and could be substantiated.
Fitalifestyle Ltd (Fitalifestyle) did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.
The ASA was concerned by Fitalifestyle's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
We considered that the claims that nutritional microscopy – the observational analysis of blood samples – could monitor the biology of the human body and thereby pre-empt, diagnose, monitor and prevent medical conditions, accelerate diagnoses, assess the effectiveness of diets and maintain well-being were breakthrough claims that required a body of robust scientific evidence, such as clinical trials conducted on people, in order to substantiate them.
We noted, however, that Fitalifestyle had not responded to our enquiries and that we had therefore not received any evidence in support of the claims. In the absence of such evidence we concluded that the claims had not been substantiated and 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.
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.