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Product: Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages
Advertiser: Beshoff Bros
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 8.8, 8.9, 8.10, 8.11
A magazine advertisement for Beshoff Bros included the following statement:
“Try our Nutritious & Crisp Fish and Chips”
The complainant objected to the advertisement on the grounds that they did not consider that deep fried fish and chips could be considered nutritious as they considered that they were an unhealthy, obesity causing food that should be eaten in moderation.
The advertisers said that they were satisfied that the advertisement complied with the ASAI Code and with the EC Regulation 1924/2006 . They said that as per the EC Regulation 1924/2006 a “Nutrition claim” means any claim which states, suggests or implies that a food has particular beneficial nutritional properties due to:
(i) the energy (calorific value) it provides; provides at a reduced or increased rate; or does not provide; and/or
(ii) the nutrients or other substances it contains; contains in reduced or increased proportions; or does not contain.
The advertisers said that they had undertaken extensive measures to ensure that their food offering, when eaten as part of a balanced diet was nutritious and provided a good source of the six essential nutrients (Carbohydrates, Fats, Proteins, Vitamins, Minerals, Water) that the body needs to function. They outlined the measures they have taken as follows:
Data Analysis and Nutritional Profiling of Food Products
The advertisers said that they had conducted a data analysis of each of their food products to enable them to provide a nutritional profile for each food product which offered the customer complete transparency and assisted those with food allergies or health conditions to make an informed decision to suit their nutritional needs. They also developed a range of Gluten Free options and advised that detailed nutritional information was made available to customers both in their restaurants and on their website, enabling customers to make an informed choice.
Chemical Analysis of Food Product
The advertisers said that they had voluntarily engaged the services of Eurofins , an analytical laboratory testing service, to conduct a chemical analysis on their chips, which confirmed that their chips were free from trans fatty acids and low in saturated fat.
Elimination of Trans Fatty Acids
The advertisers said that they have actively looked to comply with the World Health Organisation and the European Union’s ambition to eliminate trans fatty acids in Europe by 2023 and that they achieved trans fatty acid-free products in 2017.
Engagement of healthpro
The advertisers advised that they have been working with healthpro (a leading firm in nutrition and dietetic consultancy) since 2009, to improve the nutritional status of their food resulting in a range of products that are a source of energy and protein, low in sugar and low in saturated fat. They also said that healthpro provided a comprehensive allergen declaration for all menu items enabling their customers to eat in confidence and according to their nutritional requirements.
The advertisers refuted the complainant’s assertion that Fish and Chips were an unhealthy obesity causing food and submitted that such a claim was untrue and unfounded. They said that obesity was a highly complex multifactorial disease that could be influenced by genetic, environmental, social, financial and emotional aspects and that an allegation that ‘Fish and Chips’ caused obesity had no factual basis and was simply false.
The Executive reviewed the EU Register of nutrition and health claims made on foods and noted that the word ‘Nutritious’ was not a claim on the register.
The Executive contacted Safefood who confirmed that ‘Nutritious’ was not a regulated claim.
Safefood stated that fried fish and fried chips sat under foods and drinks that are high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) in their food pyramid and that guidance was clear that these are not needed for good health and should be limited to once or twice a week. They provided a link to a fact sheet on the food pyramid for foods high in fat, salt and sugar which included the following advice:
“Limit chips and takeaway food as much as possible – most are very high in fat, salt and calories.
Eating too much salt can lead to raised blood pressure, which triples your chances of developing heart disease and stroke.
Many processed foods like takeaways and ready meals are high in fat and can be harmful to heart health.”
The Executive sourced the dictionary definition of the word ‘Nutritious’ from the Cambridge Dictionary online which stated: “containing many of the substances needed for life and growth”.
Complaint Not Upheld
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response together with the independent information sourced by the ASAI Executive.
The Committee noted that the complaint was against the claim in the advertisement that the products were ‘nutritious’ when they were a product that should only be eaten in moderation. The Committee also noted that the word “Nutritious” was not a claim on the EU Register of nutrition and health claims, nor was it a regulated claim.
The Committee noted the dictionary definition sourced by the Executive for the term ‘Nutritious’ which stated, “containing many of the substances needed for life and growth”. They also noted that the products advertised included fish and potatoes as two fundamental ingredients which, from the definitions sourced, they considered to be nutritious in themselves; this was however, notwithstanding the additions of the food preparation and cooking processes, while also taking account of the measures adopted with one of the two products (chips) to ensure that they were low in saturated fat and that the trans fatty acids were eliminated from them (although no claim was made in relation to these facts in the advertising).
The Complaints Committee also considered the complaint in the context of consumption in moderation. The Committee further noted the independently sourced commentary that the products advertised fell into a food category whose consumption should be limited to once or twice a week. The Committee further noted that the advertising had included an invitation to “try” the two products and they therefore formed the view that the advertisement had neither suggested nor implied frequent consumption.
Taking account of all of the above, the Committee did not consider that the advertising was in breach of the Code on the grounds raised.
Action Required: No further action required.