Biomix Slimming Solution – No proof!

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Posted 20 June 2011

 A consumer complaint was laid against advertising appearing on the Biomix website website http://www.slimmingsolution.co.za as well as on its product packaging. The advertising promotes the product as, inter alia, “all natural multifunctional weight loss supplements”.

The respective formulations are called “Slimming SOLUTIONS PLUS” (for the liquid formulation), and “Slimming SOLUTION CAPS” (for the capsule formulation).  In essence the complaint was that the claims regarding the product’s ability to facilitate weight loss and the implied efficacy of hoodia as an ingredient in the product are misleading and unsubstantiated. In subsequent correspondence, it was argued that Sliming Solution Plus product was tested for the presence of the claimed Hoodia, and none was detected. The ASA investigated.

[note note_color=”#effcb5″]Biomix Slimming Solution / HA Steinman / 16876
Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
In the matter between:
Dr Harris Steinman Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)
Kalosceuticals cc Respondent[/note]

14 Jun 2011

http://www.asasa.org.za/ResultDetail.aspx?Ruling=5599

Dr Steinman lodged a consumer complaint against the respondent’s advertising appearing on its website http://www.slimmingsolution.co.za as well as on its product packaging. The advertising promotes the respondent’s product, which comes in liquid or capsule form, as, inter alia, “all natural multifunctional weight loss supplements”. The respective formulations are called “Slimming SOLUTIONS PLUS” (for the liquid formulation), and “Slimming SOLUTION CAPS” (for the capsule formulation).

The advertising contains a host of claims that speak to its ability to accelerate or facilitate weight loss. There is also some emphasis on the fact that it contains Hoodia.

COMPLAINT

In essence the complainant is of the opinion that the claims regarding the product’s ability to facilitate weight loss and the implied efficacy of hoodia as an ingredient in the product are misleading and unsubstantiated.

In subsequent correspondence, the complainant also argued that he has had the respondent’s Sliming Solution Plus product tested for the presence of the claimed Hoodoia, and none was detected.

RELEVANT CLAUSES OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE

In light of the complaint the Directorate considered the following clauses of the Code as relevant:

• Section II, Clause 4.1 – Substantiation

• Section II, Clause 4.2.1 – Misleading claims

RESPONSE

The respondent submitted numerous responses in a protracted process of requesting extensions, promising additional and crucial information as well as documentation it believes confirms the efficacy claims. When submitting some of its documentation the respondent argued that it should be kept confidential. However, other than constantly apologising for the delay, and insisting that it would submit a final and comprehensive reply, there has been no motivation for the request of confidentiality. The final and comprehensive reply was also not forthcoming.

On 26 May 2011, the Directorate wrote to the respondent advising as follows:

“With reference to the above matter and previously unanswered letters from ourselves (I refer specifically to our letters dated 31 March 2011 and 21 April 2011), I note that you have not yet motivated why the information you marked as confidential should be treated as such.

Given that there has been an inordinate delay in this file, we are unable to grant any additional extensions. At this time we are preparing to rule on the assumption that none of the material you submitted qualifies as confidential (given that you have not supplied any motivation therefore). You are hereby afforded a final opportunity until close of business on Friday, 27 May 2011, to either motivate your request, or withdraw it. If we do not hear from you by this time we will assume that you waive confidentiality on the relevant information”.

No response was received, and on 6 June 2011, the Directorate advised the respondent that it would proceed to rule on the matter.

On 7 June 2011, the respondent’s representative replied that he had been away from the office for approximately a month and was unsure as to what the current status of the matter is. He concluded as follows:

“Please give me until this afternoon to figure out what is going on and I will definitely revert back with answers and also forward my previous reply to you [sic] requests regarding the motivations and summarizations”.

On 9 June 2011, the respondent again submitted that it would “… very soon (after this), and definitely today still (100% guaranteed) forward the ourstanding requested reply along with my reasons for this unfortunate delay in my response …”. Allegations were also made about alleged actions of the complainant, which the respondent is unpleased with. The promised response was, however, not received.

On 10 June 2011, the respondent again apologised for the delay and confirmed that it would be sending the relevant information within the “next hour or two”. This response was never received.

On 13 June 2011 a similar apology was received, and the respondent again referred to “very important new information” which has allegedly recently come to its attention. The respondent added that it would send its final response by 14:00 on that day. This response was also not received.

ASA DIRECTORATE RULING

The ASA Directorate considered the relevant documentation submitted by the respective parties.

Preliminary comments

It is noted that the respondent has caused a substantial and largely unjustified delay in this matter. The respondent has, time after time, reneged on its promises to submit its final and comprehensive reply to the complaint. However, the Directorate has not yet received same. In addition, there has been no motivation sent as to why the alleged “confidential” information should be treated as such.

In terms of the Procedural Guide, the respondent was initially afforded the prescribed five day period to reply. While the Directorate is willing to grant extensions in certain conditions (refer Clause 8.2.2.5 of the Procedural Guide), an investigation cannot simply be pended until such time as the respondent gets its house in order.

In the absence of any material, reasonable, or justifiable reason for yet another delay, the Directorate was satisfied that it has afforded the respondent more than enough time to reply. As such, the Directorate proceeded to finalise the ruling in this matter based on the material at hand, as was submitted by the respondent on the odd occasions were such responses were submitted.

The Directorate also again records that in the absence of any motivation as to why it should be treated as such, the respondent’s alleged “confidential” information will not, for the purposes of this ruling, be regarded as confidential.

For the sake of completeness the Directorate also notes that the respondent’s allegation about a presumed link between a potential competitor (Mr Hannes Mulder) and the complainant was not backed up by any evidence thereof. As such, this is no more than mere speculation and has no material effect on the ruling at this time.

Merits of the matter

The complainant is of the opinion that the claims that appear on the respondent’s packaging regarding the product’s ability to facilitate weight loss and the implied efficacy of Hoodia as an ingredient in the product are misleading and unsubstantiated.

Clause 4.1 of Section II states, inter alia, that before advertising is published, advertisers shall hold in their possession documentary evidence as set out in Clause 4.1, to support all claims, whether direct or implied, that are capable of objective substantiation.

The products advertised on the respondent’s website are promoted as an “All Natural Fat Burners”, and contains repeated references to the ability to assist and speed up weight loss. There are also some references to Hoodia and its purported effect as used in these products.

The documentation submitted by the respondent contains various certificates from different laboratories, dealing with whether or not the respondent’s products contain Hoodia as claimed. Some of these laboratories state that the levels of Hoodia were so low that it could not be determined, whereas others appear to suggest otherwise. In no instance, however, has the respondent motivated why the Directorate should accept any of the relevant laboratories as independent and credible experts in the relevant field to which the claims relate. It is also unclear whether or not the one laboratory relied on, MJ Labs, is also the supplier used by the respondent. If this is the case, it would negate any argument of independence, which is problematic insofar as the requirements of Clause 4.1 of Section II of the Code are concerned.

In any event, the Directorate notes that the submitted documentation is not product relevant but ingredient based. It is trite that the ASA cannot accept ingredient-based substantiation as adequate when efficacy claims are made for the product as a whole.

In the absence of any independent and credible verification that the respondent’s claimed weight loss abilities are true for its products as a whole, when consumed at the recommended dose, the Directorate cannot accept the claims.

Based on the above, the claims appearing on the respondent’s website http://www.slimmingsolution.co.za and packaging regarding the product’s ability to facilitate weight loss and the implied presence and efficacy of hoodia as an ingredient are unsubstantiated and therefore in contravention of Clause 4.1 of Section II.

In light of the above decision it is not necessary to consider clause 4.2.1 of Section II of the Code at this stage. It is expressly noted, however, that this does not preclude this clause from being considered on appeal.

Given the above:

The respondent’s advertising must be withdrawn;

The process to withdraw the advertising must be actioned with immediate effect on receipt of this ruling;

The withdrawal of the advertising must be completed within the deadlines stipulated by Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide;

The advertising may not be used again in its current format in future.

The respondent’s attention is drawn to Clause 15.5 of the Procedural Guide.

The complaint is upheld.

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14 Responses to Biomix Slimming Solution – No proof!

  1. Sue 28 June, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

    Hoodia or no hoodia, this product works.  My weightloss of 12 kg in 4 months WITHOUT an excersize regimen testifies to that.  Please let us, the consumers, make our own decisions.

  2. Hannelie 24 October, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

    Hi there,
    You mention all the weight loss products that is a "scam" and not working. 
    Please what have you tested that actually DOES work,  would Slender Wonder and the Ascot Diet be one of them, please what have you tried that DOES work?

  3. Harris 24 October, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    Hi Hannelie,

    I wish there was a product that really worked! But there is not one that has been proven to be exceptionally great. The only way to lose weight is the hard way: by changing the way you eat. The assistance of a dietitian would be worth it.

    Why this way? Because most "diets", and even the few "drugs/pills" that may have had some positive effects ("mild" usually), result in a "yo-yo" effect: when you stop the diet or the drug – you put all the weight, and often some more, back on. Changing your eating pattern (and breaking bad scripts) is the only and best way of sustaining long term benefits.

    I do not even support the stuff tested and sold by Big Pharma.  Sorry, not what you may want to hear!

    Here is a recent peer-reviewed opinion on weight-loss programs: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21947634

  4. Hannelie 24 October, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

    Hi Harris,
    I sort of expected the answer you gave, cause I know that in my heart, I was just sort of wishing that there might be something that could help me "kick start" the weight loss if you know what I mean, I have quite a lot of weight to loose, I always start of well but then when something happens, I have quite a lot of stress, I start eating all the wrong things and it baffles me as I normally don't eat a lot, in fact my husband has to remind me to eat as I "forget" and I have been eating one meal a day for many years even if you guys could recommend a specific low gi plan or something I could try, I have type to diabetes and a lot of other health problems and would like to change the way I live now before it is to late, that is way I was thing of taking up the slender wonder diet, but it is a lot of money and I am not sure if it actually works!
    From your point of view what is the best type of "diet" to follow, low GI, low fat, low protein, there are so many and I read about all of them online and all of them have the same claim, that they work, is there a website or something that I can go to which actually compares them all?
    I know it is a lot to ask and I know what you said about diet change is true, that is why I have been trying for the past month to change my eating habits, eating breakfast, my "protein" such as fish or chicken with veggies or salad in the afternoon and then something small at night, but it seems like I am fighting a loosing battle?
    If you have any advise, please, I would listen and try, I want to to it right this time around, tired of "yo yo" diets!

  5. Harris 24 October, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    Hi Hannalie,

    I read the frustration and pain in your posting. I am fortunately not overweight and so I can only appreciate some of this anguish through patients and your input. I have immense faith in assistance from dietitians (but not all are good at this particular intervention). A book that has had a great influence on my thinking about "eating scripts" is Mindless Eating. Here is a review. Note, it is not a diet, but makes you aware of the "hidden scripts" that makes you eat. Here is a good review of the book: http://lowfatcooking.about.com/od/lowfatcookingtools/fr/mindlesseating.htm  

  6. Charmaine Bancroft 8 January, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

    Dr Harris – i am outraged that now you managed to take this product off the market – guess what – i have a slow metabolism and BIOMIX worked for me!!!

  7. Harris 8 January, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

    @Charmaine

    Are you stating that you support this company in claiming that the product suppresses appetite (because of the ingredient hoodia), when in fact there is NO measurable hoodia in the product at all? Does not seem fair! I have simply stopped Biomix from making unproven claims.  

  8. Roy 9 January, 2012 at 9:34 am #

    @ Charmaine
    Harris is right. Also – how do you know you have a "slow metabolism"? Has this been verified medically? If it is true, what is the cause?
    Many (if not most) people with a genuinely "slow" metabolism are found to have an underfunctioning thyroid. Biomix will not help with this at all.

  9. Janine 12 October, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    I bought the product at a pharmacy, the consultant told me it ia a good product and that people do loose weight while using the product. I also bought the capsules and I also lost about 5 kg while using the pills. After a while I felt bad and went to the doctor. My hart rate was skigh high and I could not even walk 5 km without being tired. I’ve stopped using the product for 2 months now and feeling a lot better! Will never use the product or any product simmiliar to this one EVER AGAIN.

  10. Dee 8 January, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    I bought Biomix Slimming Solution Capsules only 2 days ago … and for some reason decided to do some research since i am getting some kind of swelling (palette and gums). Never thought I would see this. I bought it in the pharmacy, which means it has not been taken off the shelf? Please assist

  11. nicola 28 January, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    Hi Dr Harris I am proffessional Nursing Sr at Private Company. They want me to market Ascot diet…I am not a slave to the marketing industry…I only have my patients health in mind…please give me your opinion on Ascot and can you guide me to Research even University Research that this product is under my oath that I sweared to not suitable for all. Kind Regards

  12. Harris 28 January, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

    @Nicola,
    Thanks for drawing our attention to the Ascot Diet (http://www.ascotdiet.co.za/programs/). I will ask a colleague to also assess this diet but in the meanwhile I can state the following:
    1. There appears to not be a single published study confirming that this diet results in weight-loss.
    2. It is possible that some individuals may lose weight simply because of a “placebo” effect, i.e., as with other diet research, some individuals lose weight simply because the diet makes subjects focus on their food intake and therefore eat less. But does this diet work beyond a placebo effect in most subjects?
    3. The product includes injections (“The injections are a homeopathic fat burner”) – firstly, not a single fat burner in the whole world has been shown to actually result in fat being burnt off and secondly, if this injection is truly homeopathic, then it contains no active ingredient. Certainly there is absolutely no proof that this injection has any effect.
    4. The website claims that “Ascot Pharmacy who has to adhere to strict controls as set out by the Medicines Control Council.” If this is a lie, then everything on this website needs to be taken with a large pile of salt. Read this entry – it will show that this product is possibly an “illegal” medicine: http://www.camcheck.co.za/bioslim-an-illegal-medicine/

  13. Lize 7 August, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    Dr. Harris, what do you think of thediet everyone talks about?

    • Harris 7 August, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

      @Lize
      I am still watching the saga roll out. Prof Noakes makes some valuable arguments but he has generalised claiming that his diet is great for everyone. Not proven that it works for all. Also, long term safety not proven. Prof Noakes claims that his diet is great for individuals with cholesterol problems. Cardiologists have reported that some of their patients have done worse on the diet. But a diet is only as good as the ability to maintain it, and in similar LCHF diets tested in studies, a great proportion of people cannot maintain the diet. Another aspect forgotten is that, although the diet is much higher in fat and protein, in fact the amount of calories one eats is much lower for some individuals compared to what they normally consume, so they are in effect on a lower and calorie restricted diet. The most critical aspect, for me, is that “diets” should be individualised, i.e., tailored specifically to that individual, often requiring assistance from a competent dietitian. Prof Noakes cherry picks his evidence no different than those he accuses of having cherry picked their studies to favour the opposite position. Saying all that, for the right individual, the LCHF diet is of benefit – but not the way it is being claimed for “everyone”.

      In my opinion, the best way to lose weight is NOT to diet but to change your dietary pattern and develop a new healthy pattern, and then lose weight slowly. To illustrate, many people eat far more protein than what they require, too much starch, too much of everything. Cutting back to what your body actually needs will result in an improvement. Too little time to elaborate fully. I should put my mind to putting something together!

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