Posted 06 May 2013
A consumer laid a complaint against the claims for the product Herbex Attack The Fat, The advertisement states, inter alia, “Herbex attack the fat is a powerful herbal syrup that will help you lose weight” and “A few teaspoon a day will help you look your best and boost your confidence”. The consumer claimed that he searching credible scientific databases, he could find no proof that the product or the ingredients will result in the claims being made for the product.
Herbex were unable to supply objective proof to support the claims and the ASA ruled against the claims for the product, as well as the name of the product as it therefore is misleading.
|Herbex Attack The Fat / HA Steinman / 20995|
Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
In the matter between:
Dr Harris Steinman Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)
Herbex (Pty) Ltd Respondent
24 Apr 2013
Dr Steinman lodged a consumer complaint against the respondent’s advertising for Herbex’s “Attack The Fat Syrup” appearing on its website www.herbexhealth.com.
The advertisement states, inter alia, “Herbex attack the fat is a powerful herbal syrup that will help you lose weight” and “A few teaspoon a day will help you look your best and boost your confidence”.
The complainant submitted that he “… cannot find any evidence in well-known scientific databases that confirms that this mix of ingredient, or robust evidence for the individual ingredients, that supports the claims and in particular for the dosages used for these individual ingredients in this formulation”.
It was argued that these claims, as well as the name “Herbex Attack The Fat” are unsubstantiated and misleading to the average consumer.
The complainant added that the respondent’s usual expert, Dr Sandell, could no longer be regarded as credible, given recent information to show that he has no qualifications to support his position as a credible expert.
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 4. 1 – Substantiation
• Section II, Clause 4.2.1 – Misleading claims
The respondent firstly argued that the complainant has not given any new arguments or evidence to warrant a deviation in the Directorate’s usual approach of accepting Dr Sandell. It referred to a Directorate decision in the matter Herbex Website Erroneous / HA Steinman / 10773 (15 April 2008), and submitted that the latest attack does not offer anything new.
It submitted a letter from Dr Sandell in which he confirms the individual efficacy claims made for the ingredient listed in the advertisement. He adds that:
“Due to the combination formulation of Herbex Attack The Fat there is a synergistic action between the ingredients which enables them to be used in lower doses than if they had been prescribed individually. As a result there is a therapeutic effect without the side effects”.
In addition to this, the respondent submitted copies of information pertaining to the ingredients used in the product.
ASA DIRECTORATE RULING
The ASA Directorate considered all the relevant documentation submitted by the respective parties.
In Herbex Appetite Control Tablets / HA Steinman / 20993 (2 April 2013), the Directorate ruled that it would no longer accept verification from Dr Sandell, at least insofar as herbal preparations was concerned.
As a result of this, the Directorate cannot accept the substantiation submitted from the respondent at this time, rendering the claims disputed unsubstantiated.
The Directorate also agrees with the complainant that the product name implies efficacy in reducing fat, something which is capable of objective verification. In the absence of substantiation for the efficacy of this particular product, the Directorate also finds that the name is currently unsubstantiated.
Accordingly, the claims at issue, including the name of the product, are currently in contravention of Clause 4.1 of Section II of the Code.
Accordingly, the respondent is instructed to:
Withdraw the claims and product name,
Action the withdrawal of the relevant claims and the product name immediately upon receipt of this ruling,
Ensure that the claims and product name is withdrawn within the deadlines stipulated in Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide,
Refrain from using this claims and product name again in future unless new substantiation has been submitted and accepted by the Directorate in the form of a new ruling.
The cmplaint is upheld.
In light of this it is not necessary to consider the provisions of Clause 4.2.1 of Section II at this time.