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Product: Food & Beverages
Advertiser: Teach Scoile: The Happy Tummy Co.
Medium: Internet (Company Website)
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 8.8, 8.9, 8.11, 11.1
The advertisement was featured on the advertisers’ website and offered either a one-time purchase at €25.00 of the Happy Tummy Loaf bread product, or a weekly/monthly subscription service.
The advertisement featured an image of the loaf of bread, as well as a detailed description beneath this image containing various claims.
The description contained within the advertisement stated “Developed over an 18 month period by our Founder [redacted] to completely eradicate her IBS symptoms, this loaf went on to do so for thousands of people throughout the U.K. too…This loaf has been described as life-changing by happy tummy customers since 2014.
This product description continued and included various claims:
“2 Day Soaked Wholegrain Chia Teff Loaf
The Chia Teff Loaf is a super functional product to eat to stay in good gut health, whilst enabling muscle recovery and keeping inflammation down around the body.
It's an awesome source of amino acids making it a great post training food. The main ingredient teff oxidises fat in the tummy when being digested, meaning after a couple of weeks on teff, customers notice a huge difference in the shape of their tummies.
It helps eradicate IBS, bloating and issues with slow digestion.
It reduces inflammation in the body. Eaten regularly it helps get rid of back aches and pains in particular.
It's one of the best sources of prebiotic fibre which feed your good gut bacteria allowing them to breed more good bacteria. The more you enable this process the less likely you are to be sick or contract serious illnesses like cancer when you’re older.”
The complainant saw the advertisement listed on the advertisers’ website and said the various claims were listed many times throughout the website. The complainant believed that the advertisement was misleading as they believed the claims to be unsubstantiated and not scientifically proven. The complainant further said they believed the claims to be misleading as the ‘medicinal’ effects of the bread have not been proven in clinical trials.
The advertisers explained that the description the complainant had sent was an old one and that their website had since been updated a little bit. The advertisers stated that all claims made in the advertisement were based on science research papers and their customers’ reactions to their products. They said that some of their customers had avoided getting their bowels removed due to going on their bread. The advertisers said all customers were using their bread to manage gut health issues or IBS which was the condition the advertisers’ founder suffered with and created this bread to rectify.
The advertisers explained that NHS doctors and nutritionists recommended the Happy Tummy Co. to their patients. In addition to this, the advertisers stated that a UK GP, who made culinary medicine a part of GP training in the UK, recommended their products to his millions of followers and, they said, that most medical practitioners see them as a preventative approach to health.
As substantiation, the advertisers provided seven documents, four of which were peer-reviewed works. These were:
1) Development of Nutrient-Rich Teff Bread and its Effects on Iron Status and Exercise Performance in Female Runners (Alaunyte, 2013).
2) Improved Glucose Metabolism by Eragrostis Tef Potentially through Beige Adipocyte Formation and Attenuating Adipose Tissue Inflammation (Lemecha, Morino, Seifu, Imamura, Nakagawa, Nagata, Okamato, Sekine, Ugi, Maegawa, 2018).
3) Carbohydrate Restriction in Type 1 Diabetes: A Realistic Therapy for Improved Glycaemic Control and Athletic Performance? (Scott, Anderson, Morton, Wagenmakers, Riddell, 2019).
4) Teff: The Gluten-Free Grain that Aids Circulation and Weight Loss (Ruggeri, 2018).
5) Health Benefits of Teff Grain, Uses and Its Side Effects (Firdous, 2020).
6) 4 Health Benefits of Teff Flour, a Gluten-Free Ancient Grain (McCracken, 2016).
7) Teff is High in Fibre (Asamnew, 2020).
The ASAI Executive searched the EU Register of Health Claims and noted that there were no authorised health claims for the advertised product or its ingredients.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
The Committee noted the Code requirements that only health claims listed as authorised in the EU Register, or claims that would have the same meaning to the consumer, may be used in marketing communications (8.8) and that marketing communications that contain nutrition or health claims should be supported by documentary evidence substantiating that they meet the conditions of use associated with the relevant claim, as specified in the EU Register (8.9).
The Committee noted the variety of documents provided to the Executive and that the website had since been somewhat altered. However, they also noted that the health claims in the advertising were not authorised claims on the EU Register of Health Claims. In the circumstances, they considered that the advertising was in breach of section 8.8 of the Code.
The Complaints Committee told Teach Scoile: The Happy Tummy Co. not to make health claims for their products unless they were authorised claims on the EU Register of Nutrition and Health Claims.