ImuPro / IgG testing, UK equivalent

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The South African ASA has previously ruled against the claims being made for IgG/ImuPro testing. Here is the UK ASA ruling against the same/similar product being marketed in the UK.

ASA Adjudication on Food Intolerance UK Ltd 

 

Food Intolerance UK Ltd

20–22 Bedford Row

London

WC1R 4JS

Date:

 31 August 2011

http://asa.org.uk/ASA-action/Adjudications/2011/8/Food-Intolerance-UK-Ltd/SHP_ADJ_151485.aspx

Ad
Food Intolerance UK’s website was headlined “Food intolerance test – How it works?”. Text below stated “Our blood test is considered the best way of identifying the foods you are intolerant of. The body’s instinctive reaction to a problem food may be to produce what is called an antibody to fight against it. At our specialist laboratory, we can use the very latest in technology to measure the amount of these antibodies found in your blood, using the sample you send us. Higher-than-normal levels will allow us to determine quickly and accurately the foods that your body is showing a strong reaction to”. Text in a red box at the bottom of the page stated “For just £149, our laboratory food intolerance test represents the best value in the UK, checking your intolerance to 131 different foods … “.

Issue 

The complainant challenged whether the claims that the advertisers could successfully test for food intolerances using a blood test were misleading and could be substantiated.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

12.1

3.1

3.7

Response
Food Intolerance UK (FIUK) said they provided delayed onset allergy blood testing for what was commonly known as food intolerance or food hypersensitivity. They said the test, conducted at their laboratory, was known as an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay or ELISA and, was designed to detect and quantify immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies in a blood sample, and not diagnose medical conditions. They pointed out that their website carried a disclaimer which made clear that the food intolerance test was just one part of developing a healthy lifestyle and was not designed to diagnose allergies but rather complement other professional health advice. 

FIUK said there were a number of papers that showed the efficacy and benefits using an ELISA IgG test to identify food intolerance and hypersensitivity and provided two such papers, and the abstract from another, as evidence of the test’s efficacy. FIUK said they were registered with the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and did not believe their website was misleading.

Assessment 

Upheld 

The ASA considered that the claims on the webpage, and specifically the claims “Our blood test is considered the best way of identifying the foods you are intolerant of” and that it could “determine quickly and accurately the foods that your body is showing a strong reaction to” would be interpreted by readers to mean that the blood test offered by FIUK was capable of accurately diagnosing food intolerances. We considered that that was a breakthrough claim that required a body of robust evidence, such as published, peer-reviewed clinical trials conducted on people, in order to substantiate it. 

We noted the abstract provided by FIUK, however, we did not consider that an abstract was suitable substantiation to prove the efficacy claims made. Notwithstanding that, the study did not address the efficacy of the ELISA test for food intolerances in general but only for lactose intolerance, and had concluded that, even for that condition, the test was only effective in some, and not all cases. 

We also noted that both studies provided by FIUK investigated the effect of diet restriction, based on IgG antibodies, on the course of migraine attacks in the trials’ participants. While the trials used the results of the ELISA tests to produce provocation and elimination diets, they did not investigate whether the participants were intolerant to the foods identified and therefore could not show whether testing for IgG antibodies was an effective means of identifying food intolerances. 

Because we had not seen evidence that the ELISA test could diagnose food intolerances, we concluded that the claims were misleading. 

The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 12.1 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).

Action 

We told FIUK to remove the claims that they could diagnose food intolerances with a blood test from their website.

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