Posted 14 May 2013
A consumer pointed out to the ASA that there is zero proof that the ingredients or the product as a whole, can fulfill the claims being made for this product, that is, to result in you eating less. All the scientific databases as well as natural or complementary medicine databases were searched and no proof was found to support any of the claims. Herbex were able to offer an “opinion” but no proof and the ASA ruled against the product’s claims as well as name.
|Herbex Booster Eat Less / HA Steinman / 20994 Ruling of the : ASA Directorate In the matter between: Dr Harris Steinman Complainant(s)/Appellant(s) Herbex (Pty) Ltd Respondent|
03 May 2013
03 May 2013
Dr Steinman lodged a consumer complaint against the respondent’s advertising for Herbex’s “Booster Eat Less” product that appeared on its website www.herbexhealth.com.
The advertisement states, inter alia, that:
“Its main function is to balance blood sugar levels, reducing hunger pangs and positively effecting diabetes. It is also effective for nausea, indigestion and abdominal distensions.”
Under the Dosage, it states “… Herbex Booster Range can be used to support the functions of other Herbex weight-loss products, or can be used on their own to help you achieve your weight-loss goals. Herbex products can work in support of a healthy eating plan and exercise programme.”
The complainant submitted that he cannot find any evidence in well-known scientific databases that confirms that this product as a whole or even the individual ingredients has any efficacy.
It was argued that these claims, as well as the product name are therefore misleading to the average consumer.
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 denied the complainant’s allegations and attached Dr Sandell’s evaluation for Herbex Booster Eat Less Drops dated 12 September 2012.
It emphasised that Dr Sandell confirmed:
“Due to the product formulation of Herbex Booster Eat Less Drops, there is a synergistic action between the ingredients which: 1 by moderating the blood glucose levels reduces food cravings and hunger and therefore contribute to the overall weight loss. 2 enables them to be used in lower doses than if they had been prescribed individually. As a result there is a therapeutic effect and potentially less side effects”.
The respondent submitted that the ASA has on numerous instances accepted the “therapeutic effect” of the product formulation as substantiation and referred, for example, to Herbex Nerve Tonic / M B Truter / 940 and Slim Herb Aqua / Dr HA Steinman / 8020.
It further argued, inter alia, that the name of the product, “Herbex Booster Eat Less Drops”, is clearly verified in Dr Sandell’s acceptance that the product “moderates the blood glucose levels thus reducing food cravings and hunger”, thus validating the name.
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 on the standing of Dr Sandell as an independent and credible expert in terms of the requirements of Clause 4.1 of Section II. In essence, it was found that he is no longer to be regarded as a suitable expert, and that his verification will no longer be accepted for claims made on herbal preparations such as this.
As such, the verification relied on by the respondent is not accepted at this stage, meaning that the claims at issue, as well as the product name (containing an efficacy claim “EAT LESS”) have not been substantiated.
For the above reasons, the claims highlighted by the complainant as well as the product name are currently in breach of Clause 4.1 of Section II of the Code.
Accordingly, the respondent is instructed to:
Withdraw the advertisement complained of, including the product name,
Action the withdrawal of the relevant advertising immediately upon receipt of this ruling,
Ensure that the advertising is withdrawn within the deadlines stipulated in Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide,
Refrain from using this advertisement again in future unless new substantiation has been submitted and accepted by the Directorate in the form of a new ruling.
The complaint is upheld.