ASA condemns Gaio for ‘exaggerated’ claims

Gaio yogurt, a Danish product launched last summer which claims to lower consumer cholesterol levels (MW June 23 1995), has been condemned by the Advertising Standards Authority for making “exaggerated” and “unsupported” claims.

Gaio, made by MD Foods which also makes Lurpak, is one of the first in a wave of so-called “functional foods” marketed on the strength of specific built-in benefits.

Independent watchdog the Food Commission complained that the cholesterol-lowering effect in Gaio was not sufficiently proven in scientific trials, that a graph in promotional literature exaggerated the effects, and that comparisons with other yogurts were misleading.

All three complaints were upheld, with the ASA ruling “the advertisers had exaggerated the potential benefits of their product”.

Food Commission co-director Tim Lobstein says: “The campaign based on these exaggerated claims has already established the product in the market, but the ASA cannot get the company to apologise to customers for misleading them.”

MD Foods marketing manager Henrik Nygaard says: “We will challenge this decision. Our ads have already been approved three times by the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre. This case is not over.”

An Independent Television Commission adjudication on Gaio’s TV ads is expected later this year.

MD Foods also faces complaints from Scottish company the Rowallen Creamery over the health claims of its low-fat spread, Pact.

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