Marketing Code Authority (MCA) Code of Marketing for Health products

Posted 21 January 2019

With respect to the advertising and promotion of health products in South Africa, the Marketing Code Authority (MCA) Code of Marketing for Health products is very specific with respect to such “natural” claims. These requirements were implemented with the 2018 Code update:

“         Natural Ingredients        ‘Natural’ used in the context of ‘Natural Ingredient’  means essentially ingredients provided by nature, not the work of man or interfered with by man.        It shall be misleading to use the term ‘natural’ to describe ingredients that employ chemicals to change their composition or comprise the products of new technologies, including additives and flavourings that are the product of the chemical industry or extracted by chemical processes.        Advertising and/or promotional material shall not suggest that the safety, quality or efficacy of a Health Product is due to the fact that it is natural.        Advertising and/or Promotional Material shall not claim that a Health Product is ‘natural’, but where applicable it may be stated that a product contains natural ingredients”.

The MCA has a membership of some 100 pharmaceutical and medical device companies which have voluntarily committed to compliance with its Code.  The MCA infrastructure is responsible for adjudicating on complaints and imposing sanctions with respect to member companies.  The Code and details of membership and of the Code complaint process are available at  A brief video highlights the goals and work at

MCA encourage health professions and the public to raise with the MCA, concerns they have over non-compliance of their members with the Code in the  marketing of health products.  Until such time as SA legislation supports the universal enforcement of ethical marketing practices, the MCA cannot adjudicate on complaints in respect of non-members. They can however refer them on to an appropriate authority such as SAHPRA or the Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) which has replaced the ASA, to address.

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