Posted o4 January 2017
In June 2016, a complaint was lodged with the UK Advertising Standards Authority against website claims being made by Herbex in the UK. The claims were that Herbex is a herbal drink that “boosts metabolism, increases energy and controls appetite”. It is likely that, as in South Africa, the UK ASA was provided with evidence based on the botanical substances (ingredients) contained in the product. Herbex then agreed (after negotiation?) to withdraw the claims. This has now been done. The complaint is listed on the UK ASA’s website under “informally resolved cases” at: https://www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications.aspx?date=04/01/2017#2 (scroll down to Herbex (PTY) Ltd). The list is prefaced with the following statement: “After consideration by the [UK] ASA of complaints received, the following companies and organisations agreed to amend or withdraw advertising without the need for a formal ruling.”
In South Africa, Herbex was ruled against by the Final Appeal Committee of the Advertising Standards Authority, with Judge Kate O’Regan presiding. Herbex were unable to substantiate their advertising claims. This has been written about elsewhere in this blog.
The complementary medicines commercial industry (health supplements and health products) have argued for many years that it is not necessary to show that a “product as a whole” works, but merely that one or more of the ingredients can have the desired effect. This is neither scientific nor factual.
Herbex then took the ASA to court in South Africa, not to argue the merits of their products (and whether or not they actually worked!), but to argue that as Herbex was not a member of the ASA, it did not fall under the ASA’s jurisdiction.
In the meantime, the ASA in South Africa no longer accepts complaints about Herbex’s advertising. Ironically, at this time – January 2017 – Herbex is making the same three claims on South African TV advertising, which they agreed to withdraw from their UK website!