Ultimate Brain Fuel – ASA ruling

Posted 15 November 2012

A consumer laid a complaint with the ASA against this  product that claims to, among other, to “maximise overall brain health, function and longevity. It nourishes, protects and energises the brain, assists with fighting stress and fatigue, while also improving memory, mental awareness, clarity, focus and concentration”. 

As Ultima was unable to support their claims with any evidence, they have been ordered to remove the offending claims. 

 

Ultimate Brain Fuel / HA Steinman / 20248
Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
In the matter between:
Dr Harris Steinman Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)
P2 Life (Pty) Ltd Respondent

 
14 Nov 2012
http://www.asasa.org.za/ResultDetail.aspx?Ruling=6315
Dr Steinman lodged a consumer complaint against the respondent’s website advertising and packaging promoting its “Ultima Brain Fuel” product.

The advertising states, inter alia, as follows:

“Ulima’s Brain Fuel is a revolutionary 4 product in 1 formula that maximises overall brain health, function and longevity. It nourishes, protects and energises the brain, assists with fighting stress and fatigue, while also improving memory, mental awareness, clarity, focus and concentration”.

“Ultima’s Brain Fuel is the only brain formula to contain ALL the following, medically proven, potent, brain-boosting ingredients … [information is then provided on the ingredients and their claimed benefits]”

“Ultima’s Brain Fuel works on 4 levels:

Improves oxygen and nutrient supply to the brain
Fights fatigue, combats stress, protects and improves memory and concentration
Nourishes, protects and regenerates vital brain and nerve tissue as well as energises and provides anti-stress benefits
Provides essential brain nutrients to ensure proper brain function”.

“Who should use Ultima Brin Fuel?

Ultima Brain Fuel is Ideal for:
ADD/ADHD
Metal fatigue and stress
Forgetfulness
Students preparing for exams
Working at night
Mature adults
Health professionals”

COMPLAINT
In essence, the complainant submitted the claims are unsubstantiated and misleading to the average consumer. The complainant was of the view that the neither the individual ingredients nor the combination have had any efficacy for the claimed benefits. He explained that none of the evidence available for the individual ingredients on the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database support these kind of claims, with many contradicting any suggestion of efficacy.

He added that the claim “Ultima Brain Fuel is Ideal for: ADD/ADHD, Metal fatigue and stress, Forgetfulness, Students preparing for exams, Working at night, Mature adults, Health professionals” is also not supported by the evidence in support of the efficacy claims of the ingredients.

RELEVANT CLAUSES OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE
The complainant identified the following clauses of the Code to be taken into account:

• Section II, Clause 4.1 – Substantiation

• Section II, Clause 4.2.1 – Misleading claims

RESPONSE
Clear Copy, on behalf of the respondent, submitted that based on expert input from Doctor David van Velden, who has previously been accepted by the ASA, certain claims would be withdrawn with the hope of addressing the concerns raised by the complainant.

The following claims will be removed within the deadlines set out in Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide:

“… medically proven, potent, brain boosting ingredients”,
The “Who should use” section,
“Ultima Brain Fuel protects and regenerates vital brain and nerve tissue”,
“Ultima Brain Fuel energises and provides anti stress benefits”,
“Ultima Brain Fuel provides essential brain nutrients to ensure proper brain function”.

The following claims will undergo material amendments based on Dr van Velden’s advice:

“Ulima’s Brain Fuel is a revolutionary 4 product in 1 formula that maximises overall brain health, function and longevity. It nourishes, protects and energises the brain, assists with fighting stress and fatigue, while also improving memory, mental awareness, clarity, focus and concentration”,
“Rhodiola Rosea is a herb proven to increase mental clarity and focus while also fighting mental fatigue and stress”,
“Ginko Biloba leaves maximise oxygen and nutrient supply to the brain”,
“Choline is an essential nutrient for proper brain function”,
“B Vitamins are critical to nourish, protect and regenerate vital brain and nerve tissue”,
“Phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylserine assist with age related memory impairment”,
“L-Tyrosine assists with improving concentration and alertness”,
“L-Arginine Pyroglutamate facilitates the potentiation of long term memory and increases attention span”,
“Ultima Brain Fuel improves oxygen and nutrient supply to the brain”,
“Ultima Brain Fuel fights fatigue, combats stress, protects and improves memory and concentration”.

ASA DIRECTORATE RULING
The ASA Directorate considered all the relevant documentation submitted by the respective parties.

The ASA has a long standing principle which holds that where an advertiser provides an unequivocal undertaking to withdraw or amend its advertising in a manner that addresses the concerns raised, the undertaking may, at the discretion of the ASA, be accepted without considering the merits of the matter.

The respondent submitted that certain claims in the advertising would be withdrawn and others amended in a material manner within the deadlines stipulated in Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide.

As the respondent’s undertaking for the withdrawal and amendments of the claims in the advertising appear to address the complainant’s concerns, there is no need for the Directorate to consider the merits of the matter at this time.

The undertaking is therefore accepted on condition that the advertising is withdrawn and/or amended to ensure compliance with the Code within the deadlines stipulated in Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide, and is not used again in future.

The respondent’s attention is also drawn to the provisions of Clause 15.5 of the Procedural Guide, which requires it to withdraw or amend its claims in all media.

13 Responses to Ultimate Brain Fuel – ASA ruling

  1. Kelly le Roux 27 March, 2013 at 8:53 am #

    I’m actually horrified to have read this complaint as I bought the product yesterday, after such good referal from the assisstant at Dischem. Thrilled to have found a natural remedy instead of using Concerta for my child, I’m now sceptical and concerned that I’ve wasted my money and his time drinking something which may not work as claims. I’ve been clicking on Side Effects but can’t get the info. Normally natural products don’t have any side effects! Perhaps someone can put my mind at ease?

  2. Harris 27 March, 2013 at 10:45 pm #

    @Kelly
    There is not a shred of evidence that this product works or is safe.

  3. Cornel 18 June, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    Hey there I am a student and I use Ultima Brainfuel. I have ADD and use Concerta as well. The brainfuel does not help my ADD but it does help me stay awake longer so that I can work through the large amount of work I have. I use it in conjuction with my Concerta during exams which actually helps me. I have not had any side-effects from it, and I do benefit from it. Maybe it depends on the person who uses it. Although I do not use it on a daily basis.

  4. willempretorius 17 November, 2013 at 5:44 am #

    brain fuel really works for me,during study and exams.dont drink it after1300 because it will keep you awake all night.awesome product!

  5. Sumaya 7 October, 2014 at 11:51 am #

    Hi, I have been using Brain Fuel for quite a while especially during major exams and it does work and the effects are lasting in terms of memory. I have not had any side effects other then the fact that i dont forget what ive studied. Due to the product i have passed 3 university subjects with exemptions and did not take that much time from my daily work schedule to study. I think this products result vary from user to user but it does work if taken over a period of time.

    • Harris 7 October, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

      @Sumaya
      Thanks for your comment. As a skeptic, I would love to know how you know it is this product and not a placebo response, or something similar to a Hawthorne effect that helped you, i.e., by taking the product, it helped you focus on your studying even if there was nothing in the tablet except for say, sugar. In other words, if this product was such a miracle product, surely the whole world would be using it!

  6. charles 27 February, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

    Brain fuel doesn’t help,it makes a person to be worse……i advice people to use other products.if anyone want to know what this tablets did to me must dial +27 xx xxxxxxx

  7. Liesl 28 April, 2016 at 7:32 am #

    For the past week, i felt so exhausted because of these tablets. I don’t even have energy to do my exercises. I would like to know, was this a waiste of money. As I am sitting here at work, I’m tired and the day hasn’t started yet. I think I am not going to use it anymore.

  8. Paulos 9 October, 2016 at 8:43 pm #

    Brain fuel has help me a lot because I was having a mental fatigue but now I feel better and active I advice people to use this product if you have mental problem thanks.

    • Harris 10 October, 2016 at 10:05 am #

      @Paulos
      Considering the ingredients, and lack of evidence that the product works, I suspect a placebo response.

  9. luks 13 October, 2016 at 3:13 pm #

    I’m so appalled to see a publication trashing a product that works. Why is it that when something that can help a lot of people comes up, someone in the medical community must find a way to start trash and rubbish it. The ingredients in that supplements are all ingredients that have been proven to work. Weird how this article can be published. Altima brain fuel works for most people, stop trashing it.

    • Harris 13 October, 2016 at 3:31 pm #

      @Luks
      So you believe that this product works? What percentage of people does it work for, and can you supply the evidence to back up your belief. Remember: belief and evidence are not the same.

      • Jp Schmitt 4 September, 2020 at 9:39 am #

        instead of putting your weak minded placebo affect into other peoples minds why don’t you create a product that works for you or is it because you can’t? Is that why you settle for trash talking anything that does work ? Remember your mind can only work with what it has so maybe there is just not that much for the tablets to help in the first place ???

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