A press ad for a beauty drink supplement, seen in May 2017, stated "Build the foundation for beautiful skin from the inside. Discover NEW IMEDEEN Advanced Beauty Shot, a collagen drink to complete your daily beauty routine. Add one bottle a day to help maintain your skin and to reach your deep dermal layer where creams cannot reach ... Works where creams can't reach* ... Helps maintain your skin*". The asterisk linked to small print which stated "*Contains Vitamin C which contributes to normal collagen formation for the normal function of skin".
The complainant challenged the claim that the product could work on the deep dermal layer of the skin, which was subject to EC Regulation 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods (the Regulation), which was reflected in the CAP Code.
Pfizer Consumer Healthcare Ltd explained that the product, a food supplement drink, contained collagen and vitamin C. They explained that collagen formed part of the deeper region of the dermis (the inner deeper layer of the skin) and that it provided the tensile strength and elasticity of the skin. They said vitamin C played an important and well-established role in the protection of cells from oxidative stress and contributed (or acted as a substrate) to collagen formation for the normal function of skin. They pointed out that there was an authorised health claim "Vitamin C contributes to normal collagen formation for the normal function of skin" which could be used for foods which contained at least a source of vitamin C. They believed it could be concluded that vitamin C played a key role in collagen synthesis, a mechanism occurring in the deep dermal layer of the skin.
They believed the claim "... reach your deep dermal layer where creams cannot reach ... Works where creams can't reach* ..." was a general health claim. They understood that a general health claim was a reference to a general non-specific benefit of a nutrient or food for overall good health or health-related well-being. They said it was common practice for general claims to indicate a broadly beneficial effect on a specific aspect of health or the body, for example, "good for your skin" referred to by the Department of Health in their General Principles on Flexibility of Wording for Health Claims. They believed that a non-specific phrase which only indicated where a product worked, as opposed to describing a specific health benefit, was considered a general health claim, akin to "good for [body part]".
They pointed out that the claim was supported by a relevant authorised health claim for vitamin C, which made clear what benefit was provided. The wording used in the ad was identical to the listing in the EU Register, and the product met the conditions for the use of that authorised health claim.
In summary, they believed the claim did not breach the Code for the following reason: the product contained vitamin C, which had an authorised health claim for supporting normal collagen formation for the normal function of skin; collagen was contained in the deep dermal layer of the skin; and the claim (which was a general health claim, describing which part of the body a non-specific benefit was relevant to) was appropriately supported by a relevant authorised claim for vitamin C.
They also pointed out that the claim had been approved by the PAGB prior to the ad being published.
The ASA noted that the CAP Code stated that "References to general benefits of a nutrient or food for overall good health or health-related well-being are acceptable only if accompanied by a specific authorised health claim". We considered that the claim "... reach your deep dermal layer where creams cannot reach ... Works where creams can't reach* ...", when viewed in the context of the other claims in the ad which stated "Build the foundation for beautiful skin from the inside" and "helps maintain your skin", implied a specific physiological action on the body which would be beneficial to health, in particular by reaching and acting on an area that other products might not reach. As such, we disagreed with Pfizer that the claim was a general health claim; we considered it was a specific health claim.
Under EC Regulation 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods (the Regulation) only health claims which appeared on the list of authorised health claims (the EU Register) could be made in ads promoting foods, which included drinks. Marketers must also ensure that they met the conditions of use associated with the claims in question.
Marketers could exercise some flexibility in rewording authorised claims, provided that the reworded claim was likely to have the same meaning for consumers as the authorised health claim and the aim of the rewording was to aid consumer understanding, and taking into account factors such as linguistic or cultural variations and the target population. The CAP Code, which reflected the requirements of the Regulation, stated that health claims must be presented clearly and without exaggeration.
We understood there was an authorised health claim for vitamin C "contributes to normal collagen formation for the normal function of skin", for which we understood the product met the conditions of use. We noted that the authorised claim was about normal function only and did not refer to a particular site of action. We considered that because the claim in the ad stated a particular site of action (the deep dermal layer of the skin), did not reference the substance for which the health claim was authorised (vitamin C) and did not fully reflect the reference in the authorised claim to the physiological process of collagen formation, it went beyond the authorised claim.
We therefore concluded that the claim breached the Code.
The ad breached 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) and 15.7 15.7 Nutrition and health claims for food supplements must be permitted or authorised as provided for at rule 15.1.1 above. 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. (Food supplements and other vitamins and minerals).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Pfizer Consumer Healthcare Ltd not to make unauthorised health claims for their products.