Fountainhead Detox Patches – ASA breach ruling

Posted 11 March 2012

A complaint was laid against the website of Fountainhead Detox Patches arguing that the same claims were still being made for this product. The argument was made that the product was the same but the name simply changed. The ASA ruled in favour of the respondent, i.e., Fountainhead.

However, this allows the complainant to lay a complaint with the ASA against the bizarre and nonsense claims being made for these two products,  Chi Detox Patches / Heat Detox Patches .  In  the event that Fountainhead change their website and claims, the original web page can be viewed here.

Fountainhead Detox Patches / HA Steinman / 14684
Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
In the matter between:
Dr Harris Steinman Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)
The Fountainhead (Pty) Ltd Respondent


05 Mar 2012
http://www.asasa.org.za/ResultDetail.aspx?Ruling=5981


BACKGROUND
In Fountainhead Detox Patches / H A Steinman / 14684 (14 December 2009) the Directorate considered an advertisement promoting various of the respondent’s products, including its “Fountainhead Detox Patches”.

The claims disputed were:

“… removes wastes” and “Wastes are drawn into the patch”,

“… increase blood circulation which increases oxygen and nutrients to your cells …” and “Emits anti-oxidants”,

“The only patches registered for an FDA drug monograph”.

Insofar as the claims listed in “1” above are concerned, the Directorate held that these claims were substantiated only for the respondent’s “Chi” Detox Patch, and not its “Heat” Detox Patch. The claims listed in “2” and “3” above were held to be unsubstantiated for either product.

The respondent was instructed to withdrawn the claims in accordance with the findings within immediate effect and within the deadlines stipulated in Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide.

SUBSEQUENT TO THE RULING
In a letter dated 19 February 2012, the complainant lodged a breach allegation against the respondent’s websites at the following URLs:

• http://www.thefountainhead.co.za/youhuisgenootresponse20090225.pdf,
• http://www.thefountainhead.co.za/therapychipatchwhy.asp, and
• http://www.thefountainhead.co.za/therapychicertificates.asp.

The complainant submitted that the respondent had written a response to a Huisgenoot article which proclaimed these products “a big con”. In this reply, it argues that detox footpads are effective. This is in direct contradiction to the ASA ruling which found that there was insufficient evidence to confirm efficacy for this product. A copy of the respondent’s reply to You / Huisgenoot was attached to the complaint.

The complainant added that the respondent’s website still claims that this product is able to detoxify the body. To mislead the public, respondent had given the product a slight name change, now calling them Chi Detox Patches and Heat Detox Patches. However they are exactly the same as that which the ASA ruled against.

The complainant submitted that the respondent is flagrantly ignoring the ASA’s previous ruling.

RELEVANT CLAUSES OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE
In light of the breach allegation the Directorate considered Clause 15 of the Procedural Guide (Enforcement of rulings) as relevant.

RESPONSE
The respondent submitted that the link to its rebuttal to the Huisgenoot article was removed voluntarily from its website some time ago. It exercised the right to defend claims made by You / Huisegenoot that it felt were biased and unscientific and this was its response to their article.

It added that it never changed the names of its detox patches. It first launched these products. They had always been called “Chi” and “Heat” Detox Patches respectively. The respondent noted that it takes umbrage to complainant’s claim that it is out to mislead the public by changing the name of its patches.

It has asked its web designer to immediately amend any claims that may be contrary to the ASA ruling of 14 December 2009, and reserved its rights to “defend [its] claims should it wish to do so in future”.

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

Firstly, it should be noted that Clause 4.1 of Section I of the Code defines advertisement as any visual or aural communication, representation, reference or notification of any kind. It further stipulates that editorial material is not advertisement, unless it is an editorial for which consideration has been given or received

The respondent’s reply to the Huisgenoot article appears to be editorial in nature. There is nothing before the Directorate to suggest that it was published anywhere as a result of “consideration” having been given or received.

Therefore, the Directorate will not consider the article/letter that appeared on the URL http://www.thefountainhead.co.za/youhuisgenootresponse20090225.pdf as advertising for purposes of this ruling.

The Directorate is only tasked with determining whether the respondent is in breach of the Directorate ruling dated 14 December 2009.

Clause 15.1 of the Procedural Guide states that “The responsibility for adherence to a ruling made by the Directorate or the ASA Committees lies with the person against whom such ruling has been made”. This implies that it is the duty of the recipient of an adverse ruling to ensure that it complies.

The previous ruling specifically considered the following claims:

“… removes wastes” and “Wastes are drawn into the patch”, (which was held to be substantiated ONLY in relation to the “Chi” patch)

“… increase blood circulation which increases oxygen and nutrients to your cells …” and “Emits anti-oxidants”,

“The only patches registered for an FDA drug monograph”.

The complainant submitted that the respondent’s website link, http://www.thefountainhead.co.za/therapychipatchwhy.asp) still claims that the product is able to detoxify the body. While this may be so, it should be remembered that the Directorate never considered such a claim in relation to the respondent’s products.

The Directorate searched the links provided by the complainant and was unable to locate any of the above-mentioned claims.

Given the above, the respondent’s website does not appear to contravene the previous ruling insofar as the specific claims considered are concerned. as such, the respondent cannot be said to be in contravention of Clause 15 of the Procedural Guide.

The breach allegation is therefore dismissed.

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