ASA ruling: Homemark Slim Coffee ruling

Homemark Slim Coffee – new formulation with Caralluma fimbriata

Context of this ruling:

Dr Beverley Summers had previously "substantiated" two products for Homemark after they were banned in the USA.

We had argued that because of these actions, among other, that she was therefore no longer a "credible expert" as required by the ASA code. The ASA agreed – Homemark appealed – the appeal tribunal agreed with us – Homemark appealed to the panel chaired by Judge King – who ruled that she is a credible expert, and therefore she could  substantiate Homemark's products, including the new Slim Coffee formulation!

First, read here why we argued that she is not a "credible expert".

Having been reinstated as a "credible expert", Homemark appealed the previous ASA ruling against this formulation of Slim Coffee,  that with Caralluma fimbriata. 

Read how the ASA ruled based on her substantiation of this product . . .

We argued that in spite of her being re-instated as a credible expert, that her substantiation should still be put aside for:

  1. the two studies are conflicting and insufficient to make any claims for this ingredient (Caralluma fimbriata) (One study published in a peer-reviewed journal found no statistical weight-loss; the other, NOT published or reviewed by a single peer-reviewer, and conducted on behalf of the company, found the CF resulted in 15 of 18 candidates losing between 0.4kg – 4kg over two months.
    On a diet alone, average weight loss is around ½ – 1 kg per week, therefore for 8 weeks, 4-8 kg can be lost)

  2. the equivalent amount of Slim Coffee that a consumer has to drink to obtain the same dose as in study 2, will cost the consumer R1,799.40 over two months – to have a potential 80% change of losing 0.4kg – 4kg. We asked whether Dr Summers, as a pharmacist, state unequivocally that she supports the use and claims for this product knowing this?
  3. that in previous ruling, the ASA held that "the respondent should supply independent verification from an expert in this field to unequivocally state that its product, as a whole, when consumed at the recommended dose, will deliver the claimed effects".
Read the full argument  here.


And in case you still have doubts, the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCD) ("Unbiased, Scientific Clinical Information on Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Therapies") states for this ingredient: "Effectiveness: INSUFFICIENT RELIABLE EVIDENCE to RATE: Weight loss. Preliminary evidence shows that taking a caralluma extract 500 mg twice daily for 60 days might decrease waist circumference, feelings of hunger, and fat and calorie intake. But it does not seem to decrease weight, body mass index (BMI), body fat, or hip circumference (15272). More evidence is needed to rate caralluma for this use."


Below is the ASA ruling:


Ruling of the : Advertising Standards Committee
In the matter between:
Homemark (Pty) LtdComplainant(s)/Appellant(s)
Dr Harris A SteinmanRespondent

17 May 2010

The respondent made the further submission that Dr Summers had not fulfilled the conditions required by Section I Clause 4.25 in that not only had she not evaluated the product as a whole, she failed to demonstrate that her substantiation was based on statistically valid data which employed a validated, proven scientific method applicable to the claim being made.

The Appellant submitted that the Respondent is not an expert who is qualified to express an opinion on the product. In fact, they had previously made the submission that the Respondent himself had incorrectly interpreted the statistical date, presumably to influence the Directorate negatively.

The Respondent also made the submission that “for reasons of non-disclosure of pricing (or being misleading or dishonest in terms of pricing) the claims for this product should be ruled against”.

The Appellant objected to the introduction of this argument at this stage in the proceedings.


The ASC considered all the documentation before it and noted that the FAC had concluded that Dr Summers should be regarded as a credible, independent expert in the case in question. It agreed that the Respondent, as a party to the matter, could not be an independent expert as envisaged by the Code.

Accordingly, the ASC found no reason to disregard Dr Summers evidence and found the claims to be substantiated. Accordingly, the complaint is dismissed.

Relating to the further objection raised by the Respondent regarding pricing, the ASC ruled that this was not part of the existing complaint and was therefore not before the ASC for consideration.

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