Eight people complained that the shot could, in the ASA’s words, “directly affect the quality and collagen properties of a consumer’s skin”.
A TV advert featured a woman looking at her face in a dressing room mirror while a voiceover said: “I drink Pure Gold Collagen every day.”
She then drank from a bottle while the voiceover continued: “It contains a blend of collagen, hyaluronic acid and borage oil,” as she appeared onstage in a theatre, bowing to audience applause.
Back in the dressing room the woman screwed the lid back on the bottle - on mainstream sale in Boots (£3.59 or $6) and Holland & Barrett, for example - and examined her reflection in the mirror again, while a voiceover stated: “Pure Gold Collagen”.
“Overall, we did not consider that the evidence provided by Minerva was sufficiently robust to substantiate the implied claims in the ad,” the ASA ruled this morning.
“Because we considered that the overall impression of the ad was that the product would have a beneficial effect upon the appearance and beauty of a consumer’s skin, and we had not received sufficient evidence to prove that this was the case, we concluded that the ad was misleading.”
Minerva Research Labs, which owns Pure Gold Collagen, told BeverageDaily.com this morning: “We’re working with the authorities to modify our advert in light of the ASA decision.”
She refused to expand on Minerva’s response to the ASA prior to the adjudication – where, as parsed by the authority: “Minerva said that if they had wanted to make claims about collagen qualities, properties and skin, they would have used the claims as approved by the EC.”
The company also alluded to Pure Gold Collagen ingredients vitamin C, zinc, biotin and copper, which it told the ASA corresponded to health claims relating to skin and collagen – EFSA has approved vitamin C for its influence on normal collagen formation in the body.
There are no approved EU health claims relating to collagen and skin function, although there are successful claims for zinc, biotin and copper in regard to maintenance of normal skin.
But the ASA panel said the advert breached BCAP Code rules under articles 3.1 (misleading advertising), 3.9 (substantiation) and 3.12 (exaggeration).
“We acknowledged there were authorised health claims for ingredients in the product, which related to the maintenance of normal skin and the formation of collagen,” the ASA said.
But the ad did not include these claims, the ASA added, nor did it imply or state that the product could have a beneficial health effect.
However, the ASA said it considered the ad was making implied appearance and beauty claims that did not fall under the scope of the 2006 Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation.
The authority said these claims were not backed up by “sufficiently robust” evidence – namely three studies provided by Minerva, two of which are unpublished and have not been peer reviewed.
The controversy goes to the heart of an EU debate over the benefits of collagen-based 'beauty' drinks and shots – and falls against the backdrop of comments from Tesco’s top soft drinks buyer, who recently gave the beauty drinks category a thumbs up.
German supplier Gelita insisting last June that a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) rejection of its dossier did not comment on positive results regarding skin elasticity and wrinkle reduction.
“They [EFSA] do not consider them as ‘skin functions’ and therefore not health claim relevant,” Gelita said, of the decision relating to its VeriSol P ingredient.
In its opinion explaining the grounds of rejection, EFSA said that the primary outcome of one study the company provided as evidence for its claim – a reduction in the volume of eye wrinkles – did not touch upon the function of skin, while another assessing hydration did not show a significant difference against a placebo group.
Another study submitted by Gelita had skin elasticity and skin hydration as primary outcomes, but EFSA’s panel said there were no significant differences for transepidermal water loss or skin hydration between collagen and placebo groups, and said the study did not show an effect on the water barrier function of the skin.