Nestlé and advertising watchdog rebut charity’s attack

By John Wood

- Last updated on GMT

Nestlé pledged to ensure its Battle of the Breakfasts website complied with the CAP code
Nestlé pledged to ensure its Battle of the Breakfasts website complied with the CAP code

Related tags: Advertising

Nestlé and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have rejected criticism by the Children’s Food Campaign (CFC) over cereal advertising by the food giant.

CFC claimed that Nestlé was using a banned nutritional claim in its Battle of the Breakfasts advertising campaign, in breach of the advertising industry’s code and breaking promises to the ASA.

It also attacked the ASA claiming that it has failed to enforce its own rules on Nestlé.

The pressure group claimed Nestlé was still using a statement – that people should ‘eat at least three portions of whole grain a day’ ​– four years after the ASA ruled that it was misleading and should not be repeated.

It said it reported the “breach” to the ASA in May. But last week Nestlé was still using the claim on its www.battleofthebreakfasts.co.uk​ website, to which readers were directed in full page adverts published in a national newspaper, said CFC.

Misleading

CFC co-ordinator Malcolm Clark said: “Throughout its marketing campaign, Nestlé has chosen to present a misleading impression of the nutritional value of cereals it targets at children.

"The amount of whole grain they may contain does not make up for the high levels of sugar and salt in many of these children’s cereals. Such cereals are not part of a healthy breakfast, as misleadingly presented by Nestlé.”

He added: “We are truly shocked at the ASA’s inability to hold Nestlé to account – it’s the same company, the same products, and the same ineffective self-regulation.”

However, a spokesman for the ASA said it had checked out the claim on the website, and it was not the same as the one it had ruled against four years ago.

Misinterpreted

He said CFC had misinterpreted the earlier ruling. “We are very confident that the ruling we made in 2008 is not contradicted by what Nestlé is now saying on its website.

"In 2008 Nestlé said‘experts say you need three serving of wholegrain a day’, and we upheld the complaint because there was no clarification and it was an absolute claim ‘experts say’.

“If you look at the new claim it is ‘experts recommend’ and there is an asterisk leading to clarification that it is from the USDA American Dietary Guidelines 2010.”

In a statement, Nestlé said: “Nestlé Cereals takes its advertising responsibilities under the CAP (Committee of Advertising Practice) Code very seriously.

“We were contacted by the ASA regarding the recommendation to eat at least three portions of whole grain a day referred to on the Battle of the Breakfasts website. The ASA considered that this recommendation, as qualified on the website as guidance from the US Dietary guidelines, does not breach the CAP Code.”​   

Nestlé pledged to continue to co-operate with the ASA and CAP to ensure that its Battle of the Breakfasts website complies fully with the CAP code.

To read why the ASA banned three Red Tractor pork adverts, click here​.

Related topics: Bakery, Cereals and bakery preparations

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