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Actimel no longer 'scientifically proven'

15 October 2009

On Wednesday, the ASA upheld a complaint against a claim made in an advert for the product Actimel – that it was “scientifically proven to help support your kids’ defences”. The ASA has ordered that the advert be withdrawn.

Danone said they had referred to Actimel as being “scientifically proven” in their ads since November 2007, and that the basis for that claim was a significant body of published scientific evidence that showed that Actimel supported the natural defences of different age groups, including children. They argued that each individual study did not need to demonstrate multiple health benefits, as long as they pointed towards a positive effect for Actimel overall. Indeed, Clearcast had approved an earlier claim made in 2006 that stated “Every morning I like to give my kids Actimel to help support their bodies’ natural defences”. Clearcast’s nutritional consultant was satisfied that the evidence showed that Actimel could support the body’s defences in that particular age group.

The ASA said that the claim in the advert clearly related to healthy children of school age. The ASA said that Danone’s evidence either related to children of other ages, children already in ill health, or did not relate directly to children’s health, or the sample sizes were too small, or the results were not statistically significant. The ASA were concerned that the evidence did not show that all children would see a benefit from consuming Actimel

Who is the victim?

Is it the public who have been misled for (it seems) years – or is it the Brand Owner who is simply trying to sell a “healthy option”?

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