Claims on www.jeyes.com, a website for cleaning products, stated "Parozone. Kill all toilet germs wherever they are. Why settle for 99%? Parozone kills 100% of toilet germs, giving you total reassurance that your loo is clean and safe. The Parozone range includes liquids, rims and wipes to reach and clean every last inch of your toilet, stopping germs from spreading to the rest of the bathroom. If you want no-nonsense germ-killing power without losing freshness, choose Parozone ...".
The Clorox Company challenged whether the claim "Parozone kills 100% of toilet germs" was misleading and could be substantiated, because they understood it was not possible to achieve a 100% reduction rate with standard industry testing.
Jeyes Group Ltd (Jeyes) said their bleach products had passed a standard EN1276 test with at least a 5 log reduction for all test species (which equated to a 99.999% reduction in all test species). They explained the test was designed to establish the efficacy of the disinfectant against the most difficult to kill germs as recognised by a committee of European experts. They explained that the test showed the product could kill 99.999% of germs, but they acknowledged that it could not give a 100% result and that it was not a generally accepted industry norm to round up a basic 5 log reduction from 99.999% to 100%. They said they had also carried out the standard EN1276 tests for Salmonella and Listeria and both of the tests showed that the viable colony count for all species was zero at 80% test dilution. They explained that a zero colony count meant that so few bacteria had survived, no colonies could be seen on the plate. That in turn meant the chance of picking up sufficient bacteria to cause an infection from a surface treated with the product was virtually nil. They said they had also conducted an EN13704 test which showed that the product killed bacterial spores effectively.
They provided copies of the test reports.
Jeyes believed the test results combined together demonstrated that the product was effective at killing germs beyond 99.999%. They said the test results meant there was virtually no risk of a consumer picking up an infectious quantity of toilet germs from a surface treated with their product. They felt that the best way to communicate this to consumers was with the claim "Kills 100% of toilet germs". They said they had limited the claim to toilet germs rather than all germs as they felt the latter would be potentially misleading or an exaggeration.
The ASA understood that Jeyes had tested their product in accordance with the standard test EN1276 and that a result of 99.999% germ elimination had been reported. We noted Jeyes' argument that, together with the other test results, it showed that the chance of a consumer picking up sufficient bacteria to cause an infection from surfaces treated with the product was virtually nil, and that they considered the claim "Kills 100% of toilet germs" effectively communicated that. However, we understood from Jeyes that the EN1276 test could not give a result of 100% elimination of germs and that it was not an accepted industry practice to round up from 99.999% to 100%. We considered consumers would interpret the claim to mean that, when tested, the product had completely eliminated all toilet germs, rather than meaning that the risk of picking up an infection from a surface treated with the product was virtually nil. Because we understood the test could not give a result of 100% elimination of germs, we concluded that the claim "Kills 100% of toilet germs" had not been substantiated and was misleading.
The claim breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 3.7 3.7 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. (Substantiation) and 3.11 3.11 Marketing communications must not mislead consumers by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product. (Exaggeration).
The claim must not appear again in its current form.