A post on the CrazyCapbottle Facebook page, seen in July 2020, stated “CrazyCap’s deep UV water purification is effective against bacteria, viruses, and pathogens. It prevents a wide range of waterborne illness[sic] by effectively killing 99.999% germs from any questionable water source”.
IssueThe complainant challenged whether the claim “CrazyCap’s deep UV water purification is effective against bacteria, viruses, and pathogens. It prevents a wide range of waterborne illness[sic] by effectively killing 99.999% germs” was misleading and could be substantiated.
ResponseMicrolyscs t/a CrazyCap explained that CrazyCap was a bottle cap that used UVC light, which worked by entering microbial cells and making the cells no longer viable. CrazyCap compared that process to boiling water to make it safe for consumption. CrazyCap provided two lab reports and explained that the product was tested via a third-party nationally accredited and certified microbiological lab. CrazyCap also provided information about a study on the effectiveness of UV irradiation for pathogen inactivation, a news article and an article about a study into the efficacy of UVC.
The ASA considered that consumers were likely to interpret the claim “CrazyCap’s deep UV water purification is effective against bacteria, viruses, and pathogens. It prevents a wide range of waterborne illness by effectively killing 99.999% germs” to mean that the product was able to successfully kill bacteria, viruses and pathogens in water. In the absence of further qualifying information, we considered that consumers would understand the claim to be in relation to all bacteria, viruses and pathogens. There was no additional information to explain how long the process took to be effective.
We understood that the cap had two settings: a “Crazy” mode of 120 seconds of exposure and a “Normal” mode of 60 seconds of exposure. CrazyCap explained that consumers could use multiple cycles if desired. Two lab reports testing the CrazyCap were provided. The first lab report tested the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. The glass surface of an iPad was sprayed with a layer of bacteria solution and dried at room temperature. A one-inch square was swabbed and cultured to determine the initial bacterial concentration.
Various sections of the iPad were tested on the Crazy mode. One was tested at two minutes and another at four minutes. A second test was conducted on the entire surface of the iPad. The two-minute testing showed 87% and 67.2% and the four-minute testing showed 93.3% and 99.6% of the bacterial colonies had been destroyed. However, as the test did not assess the CrazyCap’s efficacy in water, we considered that the report was less relevant to substantiating the claim in the ad. A second lab report tested the bacteria E. coli; 450 ml of contaminated test water was placed in a container and capped with the CrazyCap, then treated with Normal mode, one-minute and two-minute exposure time. The test was also repeated in Crazy mode for two-minute and four-minute exposure times. The results showed 99.91% and 99.99% of bacterial colonies were destroyed for the Normal mode one and two-minute exposure and the Crazy mode exposures showed 99.999% and 99.9996% for the two- and four-minute exposures.
The report concluded that the CrazyCap significantly decreased the level of bacteria after two-minute treatment on the Normal mode and after two- and four-minute exposures in the Crazy mode. Although we acknowledged that consumers could use multiple cycles if desired, the Crazy mode cycle was only 120 seconds. Therefore, we considered that the four-minute testing for both lab reports was less reflective of how the product was likely to be used. Furthermore, we had only seen evidence of the CrazyCap being used on two species of bacteria and no evidence in relation to viruses or any other pathogens. The advertiser also provided a number of sources discussing the effect of UV radiation more generally. An article described a study that tested the effect of UV-C light on the SARS-COV-2 virus. We were not, however, provided with the study itself, and in any case it did not relate to the CrazyCap or any similar mode of delivery. Another article discussed the potential applications of UV-C light in infection control in the pandemic. A research article assessed the effects of UV radiation on different pathogens in drinking water, with varying results. It did not test the CrazyCap itself and it was unclear if the technology and mode of delivery used was reflective of the product.
We considered that CrazyCap had not provided sufficient evidence to substantiate the claim “CrazyCap’s deep UV water purification is effective against bacteria, viruses, and pathogens” and that it “prevents a wide range of waterborne illness[sic] by effectively killing 99.999% germs”, as consumers were likely to understand it. We therefore concluded the ad was misleading.
The ad 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 state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify.
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 ad must not appear in the form complained about. We told Microlyscs LLC t/a CrazyCap to ensure they did not state or imply that the cap could kill all bacteria, viruses and pathogens unless they held evidence to demonstrate that was the case.