Which? hits out at ASA for ruling on Rice Krispies

Which? has slammed the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for dismissing complaints about claims made in the latest campaign for Kellogg’s Rice Krispies.

Which? complained that the TV and magazine ads suggested Rice Krispies could be part of a healthy diet. The consumer group sees the cereal as high in sugar and salt. The ASA also received several complaints from consumers, who felt the ads suggested that the cereal only contained rice.

Sue Davies, chief policy adviser for Which?, says the ruling highlights a weakness in the way TV ads for foods are regulated and the need for tighter controls. She adds: "Here we have a clear example of a product that is high in salt according to Food Standards Agency (FSA) criteria, yet the ASA appears to have developed a different way of assessing the product based on a company’s own advice."

Which? says the FSA-proposed criteria for its traffic light labelling scheme define high levels of salt as 1.5g or more per 100g of total dry food. For sugar, 5g to 15g per 100g is defined as medium.

Kellogg argues that served with milk, a 30g portion of Rice Krispies would score as medium in both categories.

It says there is no UK or EU legal definition of "high" or "significant" levels of salt and sugar, and claims the FSA’s criteria are misleading because they ignore portion sizes – consumers do not generally eat 100g servings of cereal.

Kellogg also denies that the ads claimed the product was made only from rice.

The ASA ruled that the ads did not suggest rice was the sole ingredient and that the product’s sugar and salt levels were within the FSA’s guidelines, so the ads were not misleading as to nutritional and health benefits.

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