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Advertiser: Apache Pizza
Medium: Online - Social Media
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 8.4, 8.6, 8.16(a), 8.16(b), 8.17, 8.18
A post on the advertisers’ own Facebook page displayed a slice of pizza turned upside down to form the shape of a triangle. The pizza featured pepperoni, cheese and peppers with labels that read “Meat”, “Dairy” “Veggies” pointing to each corresponding topping. The caption on the post read:
“Don’t let anyone tell you pizza isn’t healthy. It has meat, dairy AND veggies”
The bottom of the image featured the caption
Two complaints were received in relation to the post, one from the Irish Heart Foundation and one from a consumer.
Complaint Issue 1:
The Irish Heart Foundation considered that the advertisement was in breach of the Code by encouraging unhealthy eating habits, discouraging good dietary practice and condoning poor nutritional habits in children.
Complaint Issue 2:
The Irish Heart Foundation objected to the post on the grounds that they believed it was mocking the food pyramid taught to children by suggesting that pizza was healthy because it could contain dairy and vegetables. The consumer complainant said that Food Pyramid was used to teach children about nutrition and healthy eating habits. She considered the post breached the Code as children could construe that pizza had an adequate nutritional composition. The complainant considered that pizza was nutritionally a poor quality choice that did not align with the food pyramid. The complainant considered that the advertising targeted children’s awareness of the food pyramid with misleading information about an unhealthy choice of food.
The advertisers withdrew the post from all platforms following receipt of the complaints. They said it had not been their intention to encourage poor nutritional habits or an unhealthy lifestyle in children.
The ASAI Executive conducted research into the Health Service Executive’s (HSE) guidance on the matter. The Food Pyramid Rationale Paper (1) provided by the HSE noted that pizza is comprised of a combination of food shelves, and therefore food choices could be guided by considering the main ingredients in the context of the food pyramid. This paper also recommended that foods high in fat, salt and sugar should be limited to consumption a maximum of once or twice a week.
The ASAI Executive research of the Healthy Ireland publication ‘Healthy Food for Life. Food Pyramid Questions and Answers’ (December 2016) (2) , published by the Department of Health, noted that there was an increase in the number of servings of fruit and vegetables from 5 a day up to 7 a day.
The ASAI Executive’s research included a 2012 study conducted by Safefood (3) which found that takeaway pizzas were usually high in fat and salt. The results of this study showed that, on average, a 12-inch takeaway pizza often contained more than an adult’s Guideline Daily Allowance (GDA) for energy, saturated fat, salt and protein. The recommendation made by Safefood as a result of these findings was that takeaway pizzas should be considered as an ‘occasional food’ (e.g. once a week or less often).
It was stated in this study that choosing certain options, such as a thin base and low-fat cheese, would make a pizza healthier. It was also recommended that more vegetables be opted for as toppings, as this would contribute to the then ‘five a day’ recommendation (the ASAI Executive having noted the increase in the recommended daily intake in 2016).
The Executive of the ASAI recommends that the Complaint Committee adopt the following text as their consideration of the case:
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
Complaint Issue 1:
The Committee noted that, as per the research cited, it may be possible for a pizza to be nutritionally balanced in line with the food pyramid depending on a consumer’s individual choices. They considered that, while the Safefood study referenced did confirm that a takeaway pizza would generally be high in fat and salt, it was not suggested by either Safefood or the HSE that such foods be eliminated entirely from the human diet but rather be limited to occasional consumption. They noted that the image used in the advertisement depictedfeatured a single slice of pizza, the general reference to “pizza” in the caption would usually be understood by consumers to mean a whole pizza. TheThey further considered that the claim “don’t let anyone tell you pizza isn’t healthy” implied that pizza is healthy. As evidence had not been furnished by the advertisers to substantiate this fact, the Complaints Committee did not consider thatconsidered that the claim was misleading and could potentially encourage excess consumption of the product by presenting it as a healthy food. They therefore considered the advertisement encouraged unhealthy eating habits, discouraged good dietary practice or condoned poor nutritional habits in children..
The Executive recommends that the Complaint Issue 1 be not upheld.
Complaint Issue 2:
The Committee noted that, while the image used in the advertisement did draw a parallel with the food pyramid, it depicted a slice of pizza in place of the pyramid and the food labels pictured did not correspond to the actual food pyramid levels taught to children. In the circumstances, they considered it unlikely that a child would associate the food pyramid with the advertisement.
However the claim “Don’t let anyone tell you pizza isn’t healthy. It has meat, dairy AND veggies” was an absolute claim that pizza was healthy as it contained meat, dairy and vegetables. The Committee noted from the research that it may be possible for a pizza to be nutritionally balanced in line with the food pyramid, depending on a consumer’s individual choices. They also noted that no evidence had been provided to substantiate the unqualified claim that the product was healthy per se. In the circumstances, the Committee considered the post to be in breach of Section 4.1 of the Code.
The Executive recommends that the complaint be upheld.”
Complaint Issue 2 upheld.
As the post had been withdrawn, no further action in this case was required.