ASA Ruling | Chuckling Goat Ltd – 13 May 2020
Issues: Covid-19, Making health/nutritional claims, Food sector/ retail
- Advertisers must take care that any health or nutrition claims comply with regulation in the area and must not make claims that imply foods prevent, treat or cure human disease.
- Many advertisers want to leverage their products in the wake of Covid-19, however it is important to note that an advert may not need to expressly mention Covid-19 to be caught by the rules. Here, reference to helping to protect against viruses and flu generally, meant that the food products breached the Code.
- References to Covid-19 and to viruses generally are likely to attract regulatory attention. In response to the increase in advertising relating to Covid-19, the ASA has created a quick complaint report function for Covid-19 related ad complaints and has produced specific guidance on advertising responsibly https://www.asa.org.uk/news/coronavirus-covid-19-advertising-responsibly.html
Three complainants challenged whether a poster and website advert implied claims that:
- Chuckling Goat food products could help to protect against viruses and the flu were claims to prevent, treat or cure disease (which were prohibited by the Code); and
- Chuckling Goat food products could boost the immune system (and whether this claim complied with the Code).
The ASA held that the claims did imply that the advertised food products prevented, treated or cured human disease. This is prohibited under the Code. The finding was on the basis that:
- Consumers, who were unfamiliar with the brand, would understand from the ad that Chuckling Goat was offering advice, linked to gut health, about how to prevent catching viruses. It considered that it was therefore a claim that a food could prevent, treat or cure human disease.
- Secondly, given the context in which the website claims appeared, (namely on the “Viruses” and “Flu” web pages, alongside featured food products) consumers would understand that those products listed could help to fight against viruses and the flu by boosting immunity and improving gut health.
Such claims are prohibited and breached CAP code rule 15.6.2 (Food, food supplements and associated health or nutrition claims).
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