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Product: Health & Beauty
Advertiser: Marine Healthfoods
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 11.1, 11.4, 11.5, 11.6, 11.8(b), 11.10
An email newsletter promoting an offer on a supplement included the following statements:
“Immunity news from Marine Health Foods
Here at Marine Healthfoods we have been making the most natural supplements possible to help you, our customers, maintain peak performance and immunity for over 20 years. We want to offer all our customers and subscribers a further 10% off on all purchases from our website to help bullet proof your immunity in the days and weeks ahead-it’s our way of saying thank you for your continued support. We have attached some research below in relation to immunity and our marine extracts.”
“Oyster Max – Immunity from the Deep!”
The email included an image that featured the portrayal of a virus with a hand held out as if to stop the virus.
“At Marine Health Foods we have been on the coal face of artisan food production and nutrition for many years now. We have watched the industrial agriculture model pollute our food chain with chemicals, raising animals in the most inhumane conditions imaginable and destroying the world’s most important profession-farming and food production. Many of our clients are only too aware of this and have protected themselves by joining forces in organizations like Weston A Price Foundation and Slow Food International to fight back against this trend and secure clean, healthy food for their families and communities. We all know that this intensive form of rearing animals creates breeding grounds for drug resistant strains of pathogens. When those same strains mutate to jump from animals to humans and then continue with human to human transmission, we have a big problem. The current COVID-19 is thought to have originated with bats, jumped to humans and then continued from human to human. Many scientists see large scale animal factories as potential sources of ever mutating strains of bacteria and viruses that may make that jump also, and this is a consequence of big business taking over our food supply.
We have heard many of the conspiracy theories right up to alien germ warfare about the current pandemic. Science however has been warning for a long time of the danger of infectious disease emanating from industrial pig and poultry operations. When you have a large population with compromised immunity through poor nutrition and lifestyle and a food industry entirely focused on profits it leaves little in the way of natural defense (sic) against such outbreaks.
Humanity needs to take a large step back to humane animal husbandry and nutrient dense, small scale organic food production. This is our natural buffer against these outbreaks. Many of you guys live and breath this philosophy so we are only preaching to the converted. It is however very annoying when you live that philosophy but end up in the middle of a pandemic caused by big agri, big pharma and their investors who all have their snouts in the trough-pun intended.
For our part, rest assured we will keep making the purest most nutrient dense marine extracts we can too help keep you, our customers, bullet proof now and always.
We have dug up some research on the current virus as it relates to what we do here in Marine Healthfoods for those who are interested. As always we stand to be corrected and directed to the best info by you guys.
The following article was written 10 years ago, According to the authors, zinc deficiency can make us a lot more susceptible to infection so it is imperative that we maintain correct zinc serum status. It goes on to show how zinc can prevent viruses replicating and hence transmitting.”
The following link was included in the email:
“Zn(2+) inhibits coronavirus and arterivirus RNA polymerase activity in vitro and zinc ionophores block the replication of these viruses in cell culture. PLoS Pathog. 2010;6(11):e1001176. Published 2010 Nov 4.doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1001176”
Under the link stated:
“OysterMax® is still the caviar of zinc supplements, as the zinc is highly bioavailable and balanced with important co factors like copper and manganese making it more readily available to the cells.
We would also highly recommend refreshing your knowledge of molecular biology and RNA viruses, specifically the corona virus, with this short, easily understood 20-minute video by Dr. Seheult on MedCram. The above article is also explained in the video.
Coronavirus Epidemic Update. Can Zinc Help PreventCOVID-19?
Our dietary supplement OysterMax® is comprised of 1 ingredient–Pure Oyster Extract, naturally high in organic zinc as nature intended. No other brand even comes close in terms of the quality of zinc in OysterMax®.
OysterMax® oyster extract powder naturally contains
• High levels of Zinc& Copper in natures perfect ratio.
• High levels of vitamin B12.
• Is a source of Iodine
• Naturally occurring Selenium
• All vitamins & minerals work in synergy.
Our current batch provides the following of the Recommend Daily Intake:
• 40% of B12
• 32% of zinc
• 33% of copper
• 10% iodine
• 8% Selenium
These vitamins and minerals are highly bio available for best efficiency as they are naturally occurring within our product. Note: Levels change between batches as this is a natural product.
OysterMax® Oyster Extract Powder nutrients support normal:
• Immune system
• Hair, skin & nails
• Energy yielding metabolism for increased energy
• Cognitive health
• Reduction of tiredness and fatigue”
The newsletter also contained the nutritional information for the produced titled:
Daily serving size: 4 capsules (1200mg)”
Details of the amounts per serving were provided for each nutrient.
Amount per serving %RDI* Vitamin B12 0.96ug 40% Iodine 15.6ug 10% Zinc 3.5mg 32% Selenium 4.2ug 8% Copper 0.29mg 33% *%RI = % Daily Reference Intake
The complainant objected to the advertising on the following grounds:
The complainant considered that the advertising was intimating that the OysterMax product would ‘bullet proof’ immunity against viruses including Covid 19.
The complainant considered that the advertising could make many people fear that they had a greater risk of contracting Covid 19 by not taking a source of zinc and that only the advertiser’s product would do.
The advertisers stated that their product contained well in excess of the 15% dietary reference intakes required to make dietary supplement health claims. They said that due to the natural occurring high levels of zinc, copper and vitamin B12, they could make an array of authorised EFSA health claims. To clarify, they said that they were permitted to make the following EFSA health claims on immunity:
• Copper contributes to normal function of the immune system.
• Zinc contributes to the normal function of the immune system.
• Vitamin B12 contributes to the normal function of the immune system.
They said that they were entitled to assert that their product was of benefit to the immune system and that using the words ‘bullet proof’ was analogous in highlighting the importance of making sure your body had the correct nutrition to function properly. They said that there was an enormous amount of literature describing the importance of these nutrients in human nutrition, that they were absolutely vital to normal immune function and deficiencies in any of them could lead to compromised immunity and an increased risk of viral or other infection. They said that this was not their opinion, it was scientific fact. They said that all of their packaging and communication was unequivocal in making it clear that supplements were only to be used as part of a varied diet. They said that the body of the newsletter in question spoke about the need for good clean food as essential to the health of any individual, family or community and that their policy had always been to recommend healthy naturally produced food in the first instance, followed by supplementation in certain circumstances. They said that this was a result of the 20 years they spent as artisan food producers before diversifying into natural dietary supplements.
The advertisers said that they did not intend to create ‘fear’ in readers and apologised if the complainant perceived the text in that way. They said that the email had been sent to over 6,500 subscribers and they received only one complaint, therefore, they imagined and hoped that it did not create hysteria or fear for anyone else.
The advertisers said that they had not said that any person had a greater risk of contracting COVID-19 in their newsletter or that their product could prevent COVID-19. They said that they had included links to two pieces of information that were trending at the time online and one of them, a YouTube video, was entitled ‘Can zinc help prevent COVID-19’ which they had not created or named. They said that they felt this was a perfectly reasonable YouTube video to share as the source, Dr Seheult, and the science were reputable and accurate. They said that perhaps it was a misunderstanding on the complainant’s behalf that they thought they were asking this question, they were merely including the name of the hyperlink. They said that if the link was clicked the name of the video was shown as being the same and that it was the link asking the question, which they felt was very educational and as a biologist, they could not fault it.
The advertisers also said that they did not make medical claims, nor do they claim to treat, cure or mitigate any illness. They said that their newsletter presented science from various sources, their own company philosophy and they also discussed the benefits of their products. They said that they were a business and had to promote their products in a very competitive market to survive.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
Issue 1 – Upheld:
The Committee noted that the newsletter had been issued during a time when Covid-19 was a public health concern.
The Complaints Committee considered the claim “help bullet proof your immunity”. The Committee noted the advertisers’ statement that because of the product composition, they could make an array of authorised EFSA health claims, which the Committee also noted related to the contribution of the elements concerned to the normal function of the immune system.
However, the Committee considered that the claim “help bullet proof your immunity” implied protection for the immune system, and in particular, protection from viruses. This impression was re-enforced by the content of the email including the image that featured the portrayal of a virus with a hand held out as if to stop the virus, and the question “Can Zinc Help Prevent COVID-19?”
The Committee did not consider that substantiation for both the claim and the impression created in the advertising had been provided. In the circumstances the Committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 11.1 and 11.10 of the Code.
Issue 2 – Upheld:
The Complaints Committee noted that the advertising stated that the product was the “caviar of zinc supplements” and also had stated that no other brand came close in terms of the quality of zinc that was in the product. The Committee therefore considered that the advertising had implied that the product was superior to other brands.,
The Committee noted that the advertising had referred both to an article which had stated that a zinc deficiency can make a person more susceptible to infections, and to a further link to a video titled “Coronavirus Epidemic Update. Can Zinc Help Prevent Covid 19?” The Committee also noted that the advertising had included the image of a hand stopping what appeared to be an image of a virus underneath the name of their product, with the statement “immunity from the deep”.
Taking account of all of the above, and as the newsletter had been issued during a time when public health concerns around Covid-19 were high, the Committee considered that the advertising had given the impression that their product was superior to other zinc brands and that it had strongly implied that the product would protect consumers against viruses. The Committee considered that the advertising could cause disproportionate anxiety or suggest that any product or treatment is necessary for the maintenance of health, amongst consumers who had not taken the advertised product. In the circumstances the Committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Section 11.6 of the Code.
The advertising should not reappear in its current form.