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Medium: Digital Media - Social Media
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 8.8, 8.9, 8.11, 8.14(c)
A tweet on the advertisers’ Twitter account stated:
“[Dietitian] shared some of her top tips with us to help your little superhero eat the right foods. Spoiler alert: she just so happened to mentioned that Super Oats are an excellent source of wholegrain carbs
#Flahavans #Flahavansoats #SuperOats #SuperMoodFood @DeiseDietitian”
The tweet also featured a video of the Dietitian in which she states:
“Hi, I'm [name], Registered Dietitian and mum of 3 and I'm here to talk about Flahavan's Super Oats and super mood food. What a child eats is important, not only for their nutrition requirements but also their food, behaviour and their day. Breakfast is long known as the most important meal of the day. When children eat breakfast parents see the benefit it has on their mood and behaviour. The best chance of getting a serotonin boost, the so-called happiness hormone, throughout our diet is to eat foods that are high in tryptophan, such as pineapple and nuts along with wholegrain carbohydrates. With its super smooth oats and wholegrain goodness, there's no better way to start your child's day than with Flahavan's Super Oats.”
The complainant considered that the post implied a health claim relating to both mood and behaviour. As the claim was delivered by a registered Dietitian in a promotional video, the complainant considered that it was in breach of EU regulation, Article 12(c) of 1924/2006. (1)(2)
(1) Article 12 - Restrictions on the use of certain health claims
(c) Claims which make reference to recommendations of individual doctors or health professionals and other associations not referred to in Article 11.
For information Article 11 has been included:
Article 11 National associations of medical, nutrition or dietetic professionals and health-related charities.
In the absence of specific Community rules concerning recommendations of or endorsements by national associations of medical, nutrition or dietetic professionals and health-related charities, relevant national rules may apply in compliance with the provisions of the Treaty.
(2) Article 12(c) is reflected in Section 8.14(c) of the ASAI Code. See Code Sections on pages 2-3 of this Report.
The advertisers provided comments from the Dietitian featured in the advertisement and that they believed that the comments from the Dietitian, together with the fact that their Super Oats were 100% wholegrain, supported the response.
The Dietitian stated that as a regulated health professional, they took their obligations regarding providing evidence based advice very seriously and that they had a responsibility to give their professional opinion based on the best available evidence, which was what they believed they did on this occasion. They stated that Article 12(c) had no relevance to the tweet as Article 12(c) was only concerned with health claims which were defined as “any claim that states, suggests or implies that a relationship exists between a food category, a food or one of its constituents and health”. They stated that the tweet did not make any claim in relation to a food category or food or constituent of food, but rather it addressed the importance of consuming breakfast and thereby commented on the health benefits of consuming this ‘meal’. They also clarified that, while they had referred to children in the video, they were not referring to infants and the information was focused on children over 5 years of age.
The Dietitian stated that they did not consider the tweet to be a marketing communication but rather a public statement to encourage parents to provide a healthy breakfast to their children. They said that there was a vast amount of research that supported this message and supported an increase in consumption of important nutrients that many children were lacking.
The advertisers did not provide any comment on the use of the term “mood food” However, when they had been advised of the complaint they immediately offered to withdraw the advertising together with any accompanying material that focussed on mood food and provided an assurance that it would not be used by them in the future.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted that the tweet had been posted on the advertisers’ own Twitter account and that both the post and the video had referred to the advertisers’ product. The Committee were, therefore, satisfied that the tweet was a marketing communication for the purposes of the Code.
The Committee acknowledged that advice to consume a breakfast was in line with accepted nutritional advice. They considered that the advertisement had contained a health claim for the product by stating that the product affected mood and the references to serotonin and tryptophan, and that the claim had been made by a health professional. They noted the Code requirement that health claims that refer to the recommendation of an individual health professional were not acceptable in marketing communications. In the circumstances the Committee considered that the advertisement was in breach of Section 8.14(c) of the Code.
The Committee noted that the advertisers had provided assurances that the advertising would not be used in the future. In the circumstances no further action was required.