Summary of Council decision:
Three issues were investigated, all were Upheld.
A website promoting weight loss supplements, presented in the style of a news article, was headed "How To Lose At Least 2 Stone of Stomach Fat in Just 1 Month With These 2 Healing Diet Cleanses That Celebrities Use". Text stated "Julia investigates the Green Coffee Beans diet to find out for herself if this super diet works" and linked readers to another website, offering a product called "Nuvoryn". It also stated that Julia had applied for a bottle of Vitaburn Coffee Cleanse. All references to "Vitaburn Coffee Cleanse" were links that directed readers to the Nuvoryn website. The website continued to make various health claims for Green Coffee Beans, including "4 Times More Weight Loss Than Diet And Exercise", "Boosts Energy", "Rich in Antioxidants" and "Promotes Cardiovascular and Digestive Health".
It then stated that combining the Green Coffee Beans with colon cleansing products achieved maximum weight loss and referred to another product, Pure Detox Plus. References to Pure Detox Plus were links that directed readers to another website offering a product called "PureCleanse". Further health claims included "Helps Eliminate Bad Toxins that have Built Up Over the Years", "Removes 'Sludge' from the Walls of the Colon", "Helps Get Rid of Gas and Bloating" and "Helps to Regulate the Metabolism".
Further claims stated that "Julie" had lost nine pounds by day seven, 16 pounds in two weeks and 25 pounds in four weeks using both supplements and with no special diet or intense exercise, and was no longer experiencing bloating or gas.
The complainant challenged whether:
1. the claims breached the CAP Code, because they referred to a rate or amount of weight loss;
2. the health claims were authorised on the EU Register; and
3. the claims were misleading, because they were presented as a news article and did not make clear that it was marketing material.
vitaburncoffee.com said they no longer marketed Vitaburn and Pure Detox Plus and all ads had been removed.
The ASA noted vitaburncoffee.com said they no longer marketed Vitaburn and Pure Detox Plus. However, the claims on the website also promoted and directed readers to websites for products called Nuvoryn and Puracleanse and we considered that vitaburncoffee.com needed to substantiate their marketing claims and explain the presentation of the website as a news article.
The website made various health claims that referred to a rate or amount of weight loss. Such claims were not permitted in relation to food or food supplements. The ASA therefore concluded that the claims breached the Code.
On this point the claims breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 15.6.6 15.6.6 Health claims that refer to a rate or amount of weight loss. (Food, food supplements and associated health and nutrition claims).
The website made various health claims, including "Boosts Energy", "Rich in Antioxidants", "Promotes Cardiovascular and Digestive Health", "Helps Eliminate Bad Toxins that have Built Up Over the Years", "Removes 'Sludge' from the Walls of the Colon", "Helps Get Rid of Gas and Bloating" and "Helps to Regulate the Metabolism". In the absence of evidence that these claims were authorised on the EU Register we concluded that they breached the Code.
On this point the claims 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 nutritional claims).
We considered the presentation of the claims on the website implied it was editorial material which had been written by an independent party. Because that was not the case, and the claims were not clearly marked as an advertorial, we concluded that they breached the Code.
On this point the claims breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 2.1 2.1 Marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such. and 2.4 2.4 Marketers and publishers must make clear that advertorials are marketing communications; for example, by heading them "advertisement feature". (Recognition of marketing communications) and 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising).
The claims must not appear again in their current form. We told vitaburncoffee.com not to make health claims unless they were authorised on the EU Register and not to state a rate or amount of weight loss. We also told them to ensure that marketing communications were obviously identifiable as such.