Posted 4 February 2016
Aarti J Narsee | 04 February, 2016
A pharmaceutical company manufacturing “Banting friendly” supplements and products was found to be dishonest and asked to withdraw its claims.
Three complaints were made to the Advertising Standards Authority of SA against Banting Support Range products.
The advertising watchdog agreed with the complainants and ordered CNT Labs – a division of California Pharmaceuticals, which supplies stores including Clicks and Dischem – to withdraw its “approved Banting friendly” claim immediately.
The complaints, which focused on a Facebook advertisement, claimed the advert was “misleading” and “dishonest”.
The advert features six products that are “an all-natural supplement support range to assist the body in maintaining optimal health and functionality for individuals following the Banting/LCHF [low-carb, high-fat] lifestyle”.
Featured products include Low Carb Protein Drink, Digestive Tract Cleanser and Appitex Appetite Support.
The complainants called the pharmaceutical company out for its products, saying, “Banting is real food-based and not pill-based.”
CNT Labs acknowledged the complaints but failed to respond to the advertising watchdog.
Yesterday the company told The Times the label “approved Banting friendly” had been removed within 24 hours of the complaint being received and replaced with “Banting friendly”.
Professor Tim Noakes, chief advocate of the LCHF diet, warned people to make sure products were true to the “Banting philosophy”.
CNT LABS / G DOWNS & OTHERS / 2015-2439F
Ruling of the: ASA Directorate
In the matter between:
MR GLENTON KEITH DOWNS MR ALAN MANS MS MELISSA JONES Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)
CNT LABS a division of CALIFORNIA PHARMACEUTICALS (PTY) LTD t/a CALPHARM PHARMACEUTICALS Respondent
29 January 2016
Consumer complainants were lodged against internet and social media advertising for CNT Labs’ range of Banting Simplified supplements.
The respondent’s Facebook advertisement is headed, “Banting Support Range”, and shows six products; “Full Cream”, “Low Carb Protein Enriched Drink”, “Liver & Kidney Support”, “Digestive Tract Cleanser”, “Pineapple Enzyme”, “Multi-Vitamin Complete” and “Appitex Appetite Support”. It states: “An all natural supplement support range to assist the body in maintaining optimal health and functionality for individuals following the banting / LCHF lifestyle”.
The respondent’s website, www.cntlabs.co.za, shows a “seal of approval” containing the words: “Approved BANTING Friendly”. This claim also appears on the Banting Simplified product range’s packaging, which is displayed on the website. The website describes this range as “Banting Simplified … Premium Nutrition and Supplementation for Your Banting Lifestyle”.
The first complainant submitted, inter alia, that none of the respondent’s products would be recommended by a practitioner / coach or therapist in this area of nutritional therapy, because Banting is real food based and not pill based. The use of the term “Banting” has not been copyrighted by the scientists who developed this form of nutritional therapy, however, the medications presented by the respondent as “Banting certified” are not used or recommended in any of the literature that sets out the nutritional therapy that has come to be known as “Banting”.
With regard to the High Protein shake, he submitted that it is not applicable to the Banting lifestyle, which advocates a low carbohydrate, medium protein and high fat diet. The amount of protein derived from regular eating is more than sufficient and does not need to be supplemented. In some instances, incorrect protein supplementation can boost sugar levels in people with diabetes.
In addition, he submitted that the Liver and Kidney Support should not be used. If Banters encounter liver or kidney problems, it is usually caused by things outside the Banting regime and a doctor should be consulted. Self-medication is not suitable. The Digestive Tract Cleanser is something borrowed from elsewhere, as one of the objectives of Banting is to re-establish healthy gut flora. The Pineapple enzyme is made from products that are classified in all Banting literature as “red list – do not consume”. The Multi-Vitamins do not have essential information on provenance – where they come from and the nature of their production, processing or manufacture. The focus on “real food” would mean that whilst individual herbal and mineral supplementation may be needed in different variations of the Banting therapies, the use of multi-vitamins is superfluous. The use of an Appetite Support tablet is totally contrary to Banting therapies, which rely on natural appetite control, called an “appestat”. An appetite stimulant would negate the strategies of eating to a state of satiety and not satiation. Banting totally excludes foods that stimulate appetite.
The second complainant submitted, inter alia, that these products are not Banting diet products, and have nothing to do with that lifestyle and nutrition. He also questioned who “approved” these products as “Banting Friendly”, and argued that there is no authority that can approve this for the respondent. Anyone who knows anything about Banting would never condone these supplements, as Banting is all about eating natural, actual food, and not the chemicals that the respondent is selling.
The third complainant submitted, inter alia, that Banting is a low carbohydrate, high fat diet based on real food – lots of leafy vegetables, healthy fats, medium amounts of protein, nuts and seeds – and avoiding carbohydrates, which cause inflammation in the body. Sugar in its many forms is one of the most basic things to avoid due to the health risks associated with it, and because it is addictive. Processed foods, grains and their products, and anything containing artificial ingredients are to be avoided, along with products of a GMO source.
She argued that supplements, shakes and anything similar are not food, and they are certainly not real food. Looking at the ingredients of the products, things like E466 and E415 are not natural. Cellulose and dextrose are forms of sugar. Banting makes your appestat start to work properly, so your appetite is self-controlled based on the food that you eat. Adding chemicals (such as the respondent’s Appetite Control tablets) to the equation disrupts a fully functional appestat.
She further argued that Banting is not the Atkins diet, meaning it is not a high protein diet. Protein should only make up 25% at most of any meal. Also, you should be getting everything you need from the food you eat. Shakes are not food.
She concluded by stating that “Banting” and “supplements” are contradictions in terms. More experienced people know to avoid supplements, but newcomers to the lifestyle may not know any better, and could be deceived.
RELEVANT CLAUSES OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE
In light of the complaint, the following clauses of the Code were considered relevant:
- Section II, Clause 2 – Honesty
- Section II, Clause 4.2.1 – Misleading claims
All reasonable efforts were made to elicit a response from the advertiser. The respondent acknowledged receipt of the complaint, yet no response had been received by the time the Directorate considered the matter. The Directorate therefore had no alternative but to rule on the matter based on the information available.
ASA DIRECTORATE RULING
The ASA Directorate considered the relevant documentation submitted by the respective parties.
Clause 2 of Section II states that advertisements should not be so framed as to abuse the trust of the consumer or exploit his lack of experience or knowledge or his credulity.
Clause 4.2.1 of Section II states that advertisements should not contain any statement or visual presentation which, directly or by implication, omission, ambiguity, inaccuracy, exaggerated claim or otherwise, is likely to mislead the consumer.
“Approved BANTING Friendly”
The Directorate notes that the hypothetical reasonable person would likely interpret this claim to mean that the respondent’s Banting Simplified range of products have been approved by some entity as being compatible with and / or complementary to the practice of Banting.
There is, however, nothing before the Directorate to show that this is indeed the case.
Accordingly, this claim is found to be misleading, and it therefore contravenes Clause 4.2.1 of Section II.
“Banting Simplified … Premium Nutrition and Supplementation for Your Banting Lifestyle” and “An all natural supplement support range to assist the body in maintaining optimal health and functionality for individuals following the banting / LCHF lifestyle”
The third respondent referred the Directorate to the Real Meal Revolution website (http://realmealrevolution.com/) for more information on Banting. The following appears at the bottom of the home page of the website:
“Welcome to the Real Meal Revolution! This site will introduce you to the low-carb high-fat dietary concept of Banting (colloquially known as the Tim Noakes diet), and guide you through every facet of this life-changing health movement. You will learn how a low carb vegetable and high-protein diet is the healthiest and most sustainable weight loss eating plan, how eating fatty foods will lower your cholesterol levels, how sugar and carbohydrates cause insulin resistance, and the meaning and benefits of ketosis. Find out more about the facts of Banting.
“You may discover that your constant fatigue is a result of your high carb low fat diet; instead of constantly seeking out fat burning foods, you should be enjoying more natural fats like coconut oil and animal fat, while cutting out carbohydrates.
“Take control of your health and weight by learning what to eat, how to plan your meals, how to shop, how to cook healthy recipes, and why Banting is the most sustainable healthy lifestyle. With the help of Prof Tim Noakes and Jonno Proudfoot, you will learn how to change your life by not only improving your quality of life but by lengthening your life in a scientific and enjoyable way.”
On the Frequently Asked Questions page (http://realmealrevolution.com/faq), under the question “What are the best foods to eat while Banting?” it states:
“The Real Meal Revolution book is filled with some fantastic recipes that will help you feel satisfied and happy all through the day. Fill up on food from the Green List and make sure you are getting enough fat.
“Real food is the only way to go. It is the best way to have control over what you are eating. Think of this way: You are unhealthy not because you are not exercising, you are unhealthy because you are not stepping up to the plate – It’s time to start cooking your own food.
“Don’t fall for unhealthy packaged food, full of sugars and preservatives.”
Under the question “What foods should I avoid while Banting?” it states:
“It is best to avoid everything that you see on the Red List which consists of either toxic (e.g. seed oils, soya) or high-carbohydrate foods (e.g. potatoes, rice).
All processed foods, foods containing refined sugars and fruit sugars as well as carb-rich or low-fat foods would be avoided at all times. Not only are they generally spoiled in the refining process, but are devastatingly low in nutritional value. These foods do not resemble real food in any way and should not find its way onto your plate. Go for the real food option which you will find on the Green List.”
From the above quotes, it appears that the “low-carb high-fat dietary concept of Banting” relies on the eating of food based on a diet that is low in carbohydrates and high in fat. It does not appear to incorporate the taking of nutritional supplements at all. The Real Meal Revolution website therefore appears to support the complainants’ arguments.
Despite being afforded ample opportunity to respond, and to contextualise and corroborate its claims, the respondent submitted no arguments on the merits of the matter, and did not dispute the complainants’ allegations. The Directorate therefore has nothing before it to refute the complainants’ submissions.
Accordingly, the respondent’s advertising is found to be misleading, and it will likely exploit consumers’ lack of knowledge around the subject of Banting. The claims are therefore in contravention of Clause 4.2.1 and Clause 2 of Section II.
Given the above:
The respondent’s claims must be withdrawn;
The process to withdraw the claims must be actioned with immediate effect on receipt of this ruling;
The withdrawal of the claims must be completed within the deadlines stipulated by Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide;
The claims may not be used again in their current format in future.
The respondent’s attention is drawn to Clause 15.5 of the Procedural Guide.
The complaints are upheld.