Last year we investigated health claims made by supplements and whether these claims were authorised. After we reported it to the ASA, a prebiotic powder has been told to stop making misleading health claims.
While researching for our ‘Don’t believe the hype’ investigation, I came across a prebiotic powder by Bimuno that made the claims ‘feeds good gut bacteria’ and ‘helps maintain digestive balance’ on the packaging.
The website for the product also claimed that the powder ‘increases your bifidobacteria levels, helping to maintain a healthy intestinal balance’; ‘reduces bad bacteria levels’ and ‘supports overall well-being’.
However, none of these claims were on the authorised EU register of nutrition and health claims, so we put in a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
‘Helps to protect against bad bacteria’
Clasado, the company that manufactures Bimuno, had submitted evidence for four claims to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for authorisation. These were that Bimuno:
• Helps maintain a healthy gastro-intestinal (GI) function.
• Supports your natural defences.
• Helps to protect against the bad bacteria that can cause travellers diarrhoea.
• May reduce intestinal discomfort.
On the evidence submitted, none of these claims were authorised. The first three of these claims had been rejected in 2010 and the last one was still being assessed. Since then this claim has also been rejected, and yet Bimuno prebiotic powder was still making these claims on its website and on the product’s packaging.
ASA upholds our complaint
Today the ASA announced that it has upheld our complaint and also noted that Bimuno was making claims that had not even been submitted for authorisation. It instructed Clasado to remove these and other unauthorised claims from its website. Bimuno has also been instructed not to make claims that food could prevent, treat or cure disease.
Is it naïve of me to expect companies to act responsibly and not make claims that aren’t backed up? Maybe it is. That’s why we’ll continue to pull up companies that we think mislead consumers.
What do you think about dubious health claims on supplements? Oh, and if you know of any other spurious claims made on foods or supplements let us know.