Health claims scupper two nutrition ads

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Health claims must be on the EU's register
Health claims must be on the EU's register

Related tags: Health claims, Nutrition, Muscle

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Minerva Research Labs Ltd have fallen foul of the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), as well as European health claims legislation, with adverts for nutritional supplements.

Global research, pharmaceutical and healthcare company GSK has been told by the ASA that its ad for MaxiNutrition should no longer appear in its current form, after a complaint was filed.

At the same time, eight complainants challenged whether Minerva’s ad for a collagen-based drink implied it could directly affect the quality of collagen in a consumers’ skin (see below​).

GSK’s television ad made claims that the supplement could provide muscles with the proteins required to aid recovery, “helping make you stronger and perform better”​.

‘Dig deep’

In the television ad for MaxiNutrition, which was also used on GSK’s YouTube channel, people were shown taking part in various high-intensity sports, while a voiceover said: “Sometimes you need to dig deep.

“During hard exercise, breakdown happens deep inside your muscle fibres,”​ it continued.

While the voiceover was playing an animation depicted the muscles inside a boxer’s arm, which were shown to break down before reverting to their original form.

The voiceover then claimed MaxiNutrition helped with muscle recovery and said: “MaxiNutrition. You, stronger.”

The complainant challenged the claims, saying that they needed to be authorised by the EU’s health claim register.

GSK argued that two health claims for protein had been authorised by the EU, after a scientific assessment by the European Food Safety Authority.

In its defense

One approved health claim GSK used in its defence was: “Protein contributes to a growth in muscle mass" ​and the second was: “Protein contributes to the maintenance of muscle mass."

However, it confirmed that not all of the products in the MaxiNutrition range contained protein.

The ASA upheld the complaint on the grounds that health claims could only apply to ingredients that appeared on the list of authorised health claims under EC Regulation 1924/2006.

“We noted that the claims ‘helps provide your muscles with the proteins they need to recover, helping make you stronger and perform better’ and ‘proteins aid muscle recovery’ did not appear on the list of authorised health claims in respect of protein,” said the ASA.

A GSK spokeswoman said: "The protein in our products has been scientifically proven to help grow and maintain muscles and our advertising was based on these EU approved health benefit claims.

"The term 'muscle recovery' is a widely used expression of these EU approved protein health claims and is commonly used by the sports food industry."

Pure Gold Collagen

Meanwhile, Minerva’s television ad showed a woman looking at her face in a dressing-room mirror and smiling, after drinking the product Pure Gold Collagen.

Although Minerva did not believe the advert was misleading, the ASA said adverts for food which stated or implied a relationship between food or one of its constituents and health were subject to the requirements of the EC Regulation 1924/2006.

Minerva provided a list of ingredients to the EFSA, some of which were approved for use by the EC, however, collagen was not one of them.

The ASA believed the health claims in Minerva's ad were implied, despite the company not making any directly.

“We acknowledged there were authorised health claims for ingredients in the product, which related to the maintenance of normal skin and the formation of collagen,” said the ASA.

“However, the ad did not include these health claims, nor did it make any statements or implications that the product could have a beneficial effect on health.”

Furthermore, the ASA considered the focus of the ad was the appearance and beauty of the woman and her skin and considered the ad was making implied appearance and beauty claims that were not on the health claims register.

The ASA said: “The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form. We told Minerva not to state or imply that the product could have a positive effect upon the appearance of a consumer's skin.”

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