A poster for the drink, seen on the London Underground in May, included the text ‘Biotiful Dairy’s 2,000 year old secret to better digestion’ and claimed it naturally boosted digestion and immunity. The advert also said ‘They called it kefir, which means long life.’
A complainant challenged whether the long-life claim was in accordance with the European Commission’s (EC’s) regulations on nutrition and health claims made on foods.
The ASA challenged the claims that the product offered the ‘secret to better digestion’ and ‘naturally boosted digestion and immunity’.
Not a health claim
Bio-tiful argued ‘long life’ was not a health claim, but that the advert was stating the word Kefir meant long life in old Turkish – from the Turkish word keif. The advert did not state that Kefir specifically made consumers live longer, it claimed.
The company defended its better digestion and boosted immunity claims by explaining its product was a natural source of vitamins B2, B12 and contained live yogurt, all of which were linked to health claims authorised by the EC.
However, while the ASA noted there were authorised claims which were similar to those identified by the advert, they did not accurately reflect the meaning of those specific authorised health claims.
“The claims in the ad attributed the health benefits to the advertiser’s product rather than to the substances that the authorised health claims related to,” said the ASA.
“The advertiser had also not provided evidence which demonstrated that their product met the conditions of use associated with any of the authorised health claims.”
‘Not provided evidence’
The watchdog considered that, in the context of the ad and the surrounding health claims, consumers would understand ‘long life’ to mean the product had general benefits for overall good health and health-related wellbeing. This was regardless of whether the claim that kefir meant long-life was factually accurate or not.
The advert was ruled to have broken the Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct and Promotional Marketing rules 15.1, 15.1.1 and 15.2 on food, food supplements and associated health and nutrition claims.
The ad must not appear again in its current form and Bio-tiful Dairy was warned not to make specific health claims unless they were authorised on the EU Register.
Meanwhile, last month, an advert that criticised dairy practices as ‘inhumane’ escaped being banned by the ASA, despite complaints from workers in the dairy industry.