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Product: Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages
Advertiser: Britvic Ireland Limited
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 8.4, 8.6
A television advertisement featured two children sitting at a kitchen table with an adult in the background. The scene changed throughout the advertisement to feature various occasions - breakfast time, having a party and dinner time. On the table during each occasion was a full bottle of MiWadi, a jug and two glasses of MiWadi. In each scene, the amount in the glasses varied and the flavour of MiWadi varied.
The voiceover stated -
“Enjoy a MiWadi at breakfast time, party time or dinner time!
MiWadi's your juicy delight, morning, noon or night.
Anytime is MiWadi time.”
On screen text stated:
“Consume as part of a balanced diet and active lifestyle. MiWadi concentrates contain at least 9% fruit juice.
No added sugar. Fortified with Vitamin D.”
The complainant objected to the advertisement on the following grounds:
The complainant, while noting it was correct, considered that the claim ‘no added sugar’ was misleading as the product contained artificial sweeteners such as sucralose.
The complainant considered the advertisement was directed as children as it had aired in the early evening (approx. 7.30pm) and considered that it was wrong to advertise the product to children in this way, particularly as parents may now know the negative impacts of sweeteners.
The complainant objected to the portrayal and quantities of the product shown at breakfast time and questioned how this portrayed a balanced diet.
The advertisers responded to the issues raised.
The advertisers stated that it was not clear what the complainant considered was misleading. They said that virtually all ‘no added sugar’ products that might otherwise have added sugar, would contain sweeteners as an alternative. They said that manufacturers in the food and drinks sectors had gone to great lengths in recent years to reduce the amount of sugar in products, and to provide alternatives to high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) versions of their products. They said that current recommendations on sugars and health from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) (Carbohydrates and Health, 2015) was that intake of sugar sweetened beverages should be minimised in adults and children. The advertisers said that they were proud that the advertised product has no added sugar. They said that it contained a range of ingredients, including fruit juices from concentrate, added vitamins and minerals (Niacin, D, B6, and Zinc), and approved sweeteners within legal limits in Europe.
The advertisers said that the advertisement made no misleading claims that the product did not contains sweeteners. They said that it could not be a misleading omission for every ‘no added sugar’ product to omit mention of the fact it contained sweeteners instead of sugar and it was not a legal requirement. They said that the use of sweeteners was commonplace and the omission of any reference to sweeteners was the same as omitting information about any other specific ingredient. They said that there were no requirements to individually list the full ingredients of every product in every advertisement.
The advertisers said that the complainant appeared to be sceptical about the safety of sweeteners and they said that unfortunately, the safety of sweeteners had been the subject of many confusing and often misleading claims. They said that the sweeteners they used were entirely safe for consumption in their product and that they only used sweeteners that were approved for food and drink use in Europe and designated as safe by the European Food Safety Authority for both adults and children. They said that the authorisation and conditions of use of sweeteners, like any other food additive, was harmonised at EU level. They said that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was responsible for informing European Union legislation and policies in all fields that have a direct or indirect impact on the safety of food/ingredients. They said that manufacturers of ingredients can only apply for approval of a sweetener after extensive and rigorous safety tests have been conducted and comprehensive scientific evidence has been reviewed by EFSA’s experts to prove the ingredient’s safety and benefits. If there is a positive scientific opinion from EFSA, the European Commission drafts a proposal for the authorisation of use of the sweetener in foods and drinks on the European market, which is then considered with EU Member State experts before the authorisation is granted. They said that during this process, an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI), based on body weight, was set for each sweetener by EFSA, providing a guideline quantity that represented the amount of sweeteners that can be safely consumed on a daily basis throughout a person’s lifetime without any health problems. They said that the quantity of sweeteners within their products were below legal limits which meant that intakes were extremely unlikely to approach these guideline quantities.
The advertisers said that extensive scientific studies had examined and consistently confirmed that the approved list of sweeteners, including the sweeteners in their product, were safe. In addition to EFSA, they said that the data provided in connection with these sweeteners had been evaluated by other globally recognised authorities, including the Joint Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Health Organisation (WHO) Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) . They said that the sweeteners they use were approved for use in the EU and many other countries around the world.
They said that while it was not necessary for them include the phrase “Consume as part of a balanced diet and active lifestyle” they had incorporated it, not to indicate that it necessarily contributed to a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle, even though in their case it contained vitamins and encouraged good hydration, rather they thought it was a responsible thing to do. They said that they had ensured that the children in the advertisement were shown enjoying a balance of healthy meals (such as breakfast cereal with milk and fruit), a birthday cake shown for a rare treat (because it reflected real life but obviously not a daily or frequent occurrence), and a healthy dinner with plenty of greens (broccoli, etc). They said that in the end frame pack-shot, there was a nod to physical activity with the inclusion of a bat, ball and helmet on the counter alongside a bowl of fruit, as the children moved past in the background. They also said that at all times throughout the advertisement, an adult was shown to be present.
They said that there was no suggestion of disparaging good dietary practice or disparaging the selection of options that accepted dietary opinion recommended forming part of the average diet, nor did the advertisement encourage poor nutritional habits or an unhealthy lifestyle in children. They said that the mealtimes shown reflected a balanced diet, with vegetables and fruit being given a prominent position and the product was shown in moderation (one glass with a meal). They said that in practice, even though the claim was not made in the advertisement, their product provided a ‘no added sugar’ alternative to cordials and other drinks that contained sugar. They said that artificial sweeteners, as an alternative to sugar, may play a role in dental health (i.e. prevention of dental caries), as they are noncariogenic. They also said that their product contained Vitamin D, among other vitamins. They said that consuming the ‘no added sugar’ product, fortified with vitamins and minerals instead of sugary options, was in itself a healthier choice. They said that no snacks between meals were shown or implied, other than a birthday cake, a rare treat by definition, where the candles were being blown out, and the cake was not shown being consumed immediately.
They said that while the advertisement made it clear that MiWadi could be enjoyed any time of the day, it was promoted as accompanying meals and special events such as birthday celebrations. They said that even though the advertisement referred to “Any time is MiWadi time”, it meant the drink was an option, including as an alternative to sugary drinks, any time of the day and that there wasn’t just one specific time of day when it was appropriate to drink it. They said that this was different to claiming that it ought to be consumed non-stop or in excessive quantities throughout the day, which was clearly not the message of the advertisement, and that was not the meaning the average consumer would apply to the advertisement or any claims in the advertisement. They said that the wording chosen in the advertisement in relation to the potential times of consumption was “or” e.g. party time or dinner time.
The Executive noted the time the advertisement aired, approximately 7.30pm, and the programme content, a food lifestyle series featuring a renowned UK chef, and therefore did not consider that the advertisement was targeting children.
Complaint Not Upheld
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
The Complaints Committee noted that the claim in the advertisement was that the product did not contain ‘added sugar’ and that this statement was factually correct. They considered that reasonable consumers would be generally aware that soft drinks products manufactured without sugar may contain taste substitutes, such as artificial sweeteners. The Committee noted that there was no requirement under the Code that an advertisement state when a product contained artificial sweeteners and, in the circumstances, they did not consider that the advertisement was in breach of the Code on the grounds raised at Issue 1.
The Committee noting the time the advertisement aired and the programme content, did not consider that the advertisement had targeted children. The Committee also considered that the complaint was made on the basis of the complainant’s belief regarding the use of artificial sweeteners rather than the content of the advertisement. The Committee noted that the use of artificial sweeteners in products was regulated and that they were permitted for use in line with the requirements of the legislation. In the circumstances, the Committee did not consider that the advertisement was in breach of the Code on the grounds raised at Issue 2.
Regarding the objection, to the portrayal and quantities of the product shown at breakfast time and how this portrayed a balanced diet, the Committee noted that the advertisement featured the product being consumed at three different occasions, breakfast, party and dinner time, and that on each occasion, a full bottle of the product was featured together with a jug of the product diluted and two glasses with varying amounts.
The Committee also noted response material including that the phrase “Consume as part of a balanced diet and active lifestyle” had been incorporated as a responsible thing to do rather than to indicate that it necessarily contributed to a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle, even though in this instance it was held that it contained vitamins and encouraged good hydration.
The Committee further noted the response material that mealtimes shown reflected a balanced diet, with vegetables and fruit being given a prominent position, and the references to vitamins and hydration.
Noting appropriate Code sections and assessment in the light of a marketing communication’s probable effect when taken as a whole and in context, they did not consider that the advertisement was in breach of the Code.
No further action required.