A sponsored social media post stated:
“Allergy Test Ireland
Home to lab intolerance tests on over 700 items from only €39!
Now its easy to understand items in your diet causing you issues. Simply send your hair sample and we do the rest!
✔️ 425 Food Items
✔️ 300 Non-Food items
✔️ Metal levels detected
✔️ Nutritional analysis
✔️ 100% Guarantee
✔️ 24 Hour Support”
The complainant objected to the advertising on the following two grounds:
The complainant considered that the company’s name “Allergy Test Ireland” misrepresented what the company was advertising – food intolerance testing. They stated that there was a world of difference between an IgE food allergy which could cause serious health issues and what was termed “food intolerance”. The complainant considered that the company were falsely claiming to test for food allergies which could put people’s lives at risk.
The complainant considered that the claim to carry out food intolerance testing was unsubstantiated. The complainant referred to published reports that there was no scientifically valid test to diagnose food intolerances.
The advertisers stated that they took the matter of advertising and compliance very seriously.
The advertisers stated that their trading name was “Allergy Test Ireland” and that they offered a range of tests, primarily offering IgE blood testing for allergies, however, as a multi-product business, they also offered intolerance testing using IgG4 blood testing, DNA testing provided by a third-party provider and Intolerance testing using Bioresonance Feedback. They said that their website provided the client with as much available information as possible to make an informed decision on which test they feel is suitable for them and they offered a 100% money back guarantee for up to 90 days if the client if not happy in any way. They disagreed that the use of their brand “Allergy Test” was placing people at risk as they are an allergy test company by nature and ensure that a client is provided with the relevant information at the point of purchase, throughout their website and post-sale.
The advertisers stated that they offered both Bioresonance intolerance testing and IgG4 blood sample intolerance testing as part of their product offering. They said that they were aware that bioresonance was classed as a Complimentary and Alternative Therapy (CAM) and they provided this information throughout their website and on their disclaimer. They also said that each test offered on their site had corresponding pages detailing the supporting information and documents.
The advertisers also stated that they acknowledged the limited scientific evidence for bioresonance as a therapy method, however, they had helped people throughout the world through this method of testing for over 11 years. They said that they advised all clients to provide the information on their reports to a medical practitioner before making significant changes to their diet or lifestyle throughout their website and post-sale.
The advertisers advised the Executive that, in order to ensure compliance with the Code, they had removed the advertisement in question and would review their advertising in future to only feature their IgE allergy testing to avoid any further breaches or confusion.
The ASAI Executive’s research showed HPRA’s (1) view of IgG which included the following statement:
“The HPRA’s scientific review of medical devices commonly referred to as food intolerance tests included the most commonly used test kits in Ireland such as immunoglobulin G (IgG) tests which are based on a blood sample. It found that these tests will not diagnose intolerance to a certain food type but rather will detect previous exposure to a food. While this information may be used to help determine the types of food which a particular person has eaten in the recent past. It does not indicate intolerance.”
Complaint Upheld In Part.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
Issue 1 – Not Upheld:
The Complaints Committee noted that while the advertisement had focused solely on intolerance testing, the advertisers provided testing for both food allergies (IgE) and food intolerance testing (IgG4). While the Complaints Committee noted the complainant’s concerns around the name Allergy Test Ireland, the advertisement had referred to intolerance testing and they did not consider that it could be misinterpreted as allergy testing. In the light of the fact that the advertisers provided both food allergy testing and food intolerance testing, the Committee did not consider that the advertising for food intolerance testing was in breach of the Code on the basis suggested in the complaint.
Issue 2 - Upheld:
The Complaints Committee noted that substantiation for the claim that the tests could identify food intolerances had not been provided.
They also noted the view published by HPRA that food intolerance testing (IgG) worked by identifying if IgG antibodies were triggered on exposure to foods however, it had not been shown that an increase in IgG was anything other than a marker that someone had recently been exposed to a certain protein. In the absence of substantiation, the Committee considered that the advertisement was in breach of Sections 4.9, 4.10 and 11.1 of the Code.
As the advertisement had been removed, no further action was required. The Committee noted the advertisers undertaking to only advertise their food allergy testing (IgE) in future.