ASA again condemns MD Foods over ‘exaggerated’ health claims

Lurpak butter producer MD Foods has been rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority for making misleading health claims about its spread Pact – the second time such a complaint has been upheld against one of the company’s products in less than a year.

Pact is a so-called functional food, one of a range of products marketed on the back of added health benefits which in Pact’s case is the fatty acid, called Omega 3, found in fish.

Two press ads through BMP DDB ran last year implying Pact was good for the heart and that Omega 3 was an “essential” nutrient.

One featured a heart-shaped piece of toast covered in the spread with the headline: “Turn a piece of toast into something more hearty.” The second ad featured a heart-shaped pot of Pact with its lid half off under the headline: “For the good of the country, we’re opening our hearts to the world.”

Following complaints from within the industry, the ASA concluded that the advertiser “had not provided evidence to show that Omega 3, as it appeared in the product, would be good for the heart”, and that to claim Omega 3 was essential “exaggerated the benefits of the ingredients”.

In March, the ASA criticised MD Foods for making “exaggerated” and “unsupported” claims for Gaio, a yogurt-type product which claims lower cholesterol levels (MW March 8 ). But last month the Independent Television Commission gave clearance to Gaio’s TV advertising.

Seven industry complaints about two magazine ads from The Vegetarian Society have been upheld by the ASA. The group was criticised for various unsupported claims such as the widespread use of certain drugs in meat production. Its ads, through Poulter Communications, were criticised by the ASA for their “inaccurate and emotive language” and for being “alarmist and denigratory”.

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