Posted 25 July 2013
Fountainhead continues to scam consumers with a number of products. Cardioflow Pomegranate Dietary Supplement is a product that makes a number of unsubstantiated claims, i.e., that it is good for the heart when in fact there is no evidence to support these claims. Here is the result of an ASA complaint.
|Cardio Flow Pomegrante / HA Steinman / 21969|
Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
In the matter between:
Dr Harris Steinman Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)
The Fountainhead (Pty) Ltd Respondent
18 Jul 2013
Dr Steinman lodged a consumer complaint against the respondent’s website advertising appearing on www.thefountainhead.co.za/cardioflowabout.asp. The advertising promotes, inter alia, the respondent’s “Cardioflow Pomegranate Dietary Supplement” using the following claims:
“Lowers Cholesterol & Prevents Heart Disease*”
“Reduces fatty deposits on artery walls*”
“Lowers Blood sugar*”
“Reduces cell damage”
“Slows cartilage deterioration and osteoarthritis”
“May prevent the return of prostate cancer after surgery”
“Contains three times the antioxidant ability of red wine, green tee, cranberry juice and orange juice”
“Great source of potassium, vitamin C and polyphenols”
“Promotes a healthy heart”.
The website also contains a voice-clip which proclaims the benefits of using this product with similar claims as those listed above.
In essence, the complainant submitted that the Federal Trade Commission of the USA upheld a decision that there was no evidence from any of the marketers of pomegranate juice for any of the efficacy claims made. Furthermore, the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, which provides unbiased and scientific clinical information for complementary and alternative medicines, confirms that there is no evidence of efficacy for pomegranate juice. Given this, it is clear that the claims made on the respondent’s website are unsubstantiated and highly misleading to the ordinary consumer.
RELEVANT CLAUSE OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE
The complainant identified Clause 4.1 of Section II (Substantiation) as relevant to this dispute.
While the respondent acknowledged receipt of the complaint, and committed to responding thereto, no response was received. The Directorate advised the respondent that no response was received and that it would therefore proceed to rule based on the information at hand, but this did not elicit any reply.
ASA DIRECTORATE RULING
The ASA Directorate considered the submissions made by the complaint. In the absence of a response from the advertiser, the Directorate had no alternative but to rule based only on the information provided by the complainant.
Clause 4.1 of Section II stipulates that advertisers should hold in their possession documentary evidence to support any direct or implied efficacy claims that are capable of objective verification. It is further stipulated that such verification should emanate from, or be evaluated by an independent and credible expert in the field to which the claims relate.
The claims contested are clearly capable of such verification by an independent and credible expert. The respondent has, however, not submitted any such verification.
Based on the above, the Directorate finds that the advertising in dispute is in contravention of Clause 4.1 of Section II of the Code due to the lack of any credible evidence as required.
The respondent is therefore instructed to:
Remove the advertising and relevant claims,
Take immediate action upon receipt of this ruling to ensure such removal,
Ensure that such removal is completed within the deadlines stipulated in Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide (in the case of online advertising, the Code stipulates a two-week period),
Ensure that the advertising and relevant claims are not used again in future.
The complaint is upheld, and the respondent’s attention is drawn to the provisions of Clause 15.5 of the Procedural Guide.
In view of the fact that an adverse ruling was made in the absence of a response from the advertiser, the ASA will issue an Ad Alert to its members with reference to the advertiser and product in question, asking them not to accept any such advertising again.