Regulation & Safety
UK ASA: "Court action is a last resort but we will issue such action if other measures fail"

Snubbed: Dutch firm smokes UK joint health claim ban

10-Apr-2014 - By Shane Starling+
Maladroit: ASA rules against joint health claims, but the firm in question continues making them on its website and cannot be contacted
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Joint health claims made by a Dutch-made collagen, glucosamine and omega-3 based food supplement, have been kyboshed by the UK advertising watchdog. But Finitri, the Dutch firm, has gone underground and the disputed claims remain on its website.

On its UK website, Finitri’s ‘Finitro Forte Plus’ continues to claim to be the, ‘The cure for osteoarthritis!’ amid other claims like joint pain reduction in two weeks, despite the ASA ruling the claims in blatant breach of the European Union nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR).

While Finitri did not respond to requests for comment, the ASA told us its compliance team was looking into the matter and that the websites would likely appear on its 'enhanced name and shame' list if they remained unchanged.

Under its working arrangements with search engines like Google, this meant any searches for the product would bring up the ASA name and shame link first.

ASA's Matt Wilson said other measures included removing any paid-for ads via search engine agreement; advising trade associations to take action; closing down web domains or referral to courts.

"Court action is a last resort but we will issue such action if other measures fail," Wilson said.

In its ruling the ASA said, “We considered the references in the claims to the rebuilding of cartilage and the resultant reduction in pain were health claims."

“We noted that we had received no evidence that the health claims were authorised on the EU register and we therefore concluded that the claims breached the Code.”

“Furthermore, we considered that in the context of an ad which referenced arthritis and rheumatism, the claims were also implied claims that the supplement could cure those diseases and such claims were prohibited under the Code.”

Other claims being made on Finitri’s site included: "After continuous use of Finitro Forte Plus, you may expect the recovery of the cartilage and a life free of pain".

Alcopal: Clever little ingredient? Not very clever marketing...

In a separate ruling, the ASA found alcohol absorption claims for a food supplement called Alcopal were also unauthorised under the NHCR. Like Finitri, the Birmingham-based firm has ignored the ruling and gone to ground.

Disputed claims still being made by Alcopal

Disputed claims still being made by Alcopal

Alcopal claimed to contain, “clever little ingredients” that, prevents alcohol being absorbed through the stomach and into the bloodstream; it also gives some protection to the liver and kidneys".

It did not reveal what that ingredient was.

Complaints were raised by Birmingham Trading Standards and upheld by the ASA which expressed its concern at the lack of response from the firm.

The ASA found the claims, “presented Alcopal tablets as having an effect on a function of the body ‒ the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream ‒ which had a beneficial effect on health, namely a reduction in the negative effects of alcohol consumption.”

It said this claim was unauthorised and should no longer appear in its current form.

ASA's cross-sector list of non-compliant advertisers can be found here.

Related topics: Health and Wellness , Regulation & Safety, Beer, Wine, Spirits, Cider