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Product: Health & Beauty (Alternative Therapies)
Medium: Online - Company Website
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 3.3, 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 11.1
The advertisement on the Special Offers section of Lidl’s website for an illuminated salt crystal bowl featured an image of the product and referred to the following:
“Happy & Healthy Illuminated Salt Crystal Bowl – Melinera €19.99.
Handcrafted from solid salt crystal. Base made from acacia wood with 4 salt crystal massage spheres. Massage your hands, feet, neck or back with the warmed spheres.
• Cleanses the air easing allergies & coughing
• Increases energy levels
• Improves sleep, mood & concentration
• Environmentally friendly light source”
The complainant referred to the advertised benefits indicated for the product and challenged whether the advertisers held substantiation for the claims outlined.
The complainant challenged whether the light source referenced was an “environmentally friendly light source”. He considered that as the light was said to warm the salt spheres, it could not be an LED source, which would minimise power consumption.
The advertisers said that their advertisement had advertised certain claims for the Melinera Crystal Salt Bowl, namely its potential to increase air quality, relieve congestion, improve sleep, improve energy levels and overall mood. They said that these claims were supported by a number of scientific studies and commonly advertised uses for Himalayan Salt Lamps. They referred to two studies, one in relation to the positive health benefits of negative ions (1) and a second in relation to the effect of blue light on sleep (2). The advertisers did not indicate where the substantiation for the advertising claims were in the referenced studies.
The advertisers said that their claims had, therefore, not been made in the absence of substantiation or supporting evidence and although the claims may have a basis in homeopathy or other mainstream disciples, this did not necessarily undervalue the assertions made in relation to the lamp’s common uses.
The advertisers said that the environmentally friendly light source housed within the salt lamp consisted of E14 (3), W15 lightbulbs, which had a relatively low energy output in comparison to Standard E14 lightbulbs typically sold.
The ASAI Executive were advised by Codema (4) that a 15W bulb would consume less energy than a 40W or 60W bulb but it would not be considered a low energy bulb in the same way as an LED or CFL bulb was.
(1)The Positive Health Benefits of Negative Ions, Nutritional Review, Jim English, April 22, 2013-https://nutritionreview.org/2013/04/positive-health-benefits-negative-ions/
(2) Blue Light has a Dark Side: What is Blue Light? The effect blue light has on your sleep and more, Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, May 2012
(3) This bulb cap is widely used in low wattage bulbs e.g., candle lamps R50 reflectors. Source: Guide_to_Energy_Saving_Lightbulbs_Buildsmart.pdf (codema.ie)
(4) Codema is Dublin's Energy Agency and aims to accelerate Dublin’s low-carbon transition in order to mitigate the effects of climate change and improve the lives of citizens.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
Issue 1 – Upheld
The Complaints Committee noted the studies referenced by the advertisers and that information had not been received to show how the studies were relevant to the advertising claims. Without the required substantiation for the claims made, the Committee concluded that the advertising was in breach of Sections, 4.9 and 11.1 of the Code.
Issue 2 - Upheld
The Complaints Committee noted that the light source housed within the salt lamp was provided by E14, W15 lightbulbs. They also noted, however, that the advertisement had stated that one of the benefits of the product was that it had an “environmentally friendly light source” and not that the bulbs used were relatively low energy. As the claim in relation to the product having an environmentally friendly light source, which the Committee considered was an absolute claim, had not been substantiated, the Committee concluded that the advertisement was in breach of Section 4.9 of the Code.
The advertising should not appear in the same format again unless substantiation is available for the claims made.