USN 100% Whey Protein

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Posted 13 October 2014

This complaint appears to have slipped between the cracks in that I did not post it to CAMCheck.

In essence, USN’s 100% Whey protein was tested for truthful claims and found to be wanting. The amount of protein in the product was not as indicated on the label. Consumers were being lied to, cheated and ripped off.  A complaint was laid with the ASA. As usual, USN simply claimed that the label was not current and that they had changed the labels and so the ASA had no right to consider the complaint.

Why is this in particular relevant? Well USN recently complained about the untruthfulness of a competitor’s label!

Original complaint:

29 January 2013

Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa

Box 41555

Craighall 2024

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: USN 100% Whey Protein

USN is selling a product called 100% Whey Protein Plus. It is also marketed on the USN website: http://www.usn.co.za/product/core-muscle/engineered-proteins/100p-whey-protein-15.html

I argue that:

  1. The name of this product, “100% Whey Protein” is misleading for the product does not contain 100% protein, nor is pure whey (see Fig 1 which indicates other ingredients including artificial sweeteners); and,
  2. That the listed value for protein is misleading for the product analysed by an accredited laboratory contains far less protein than indicated on the label (Table 1); and,
  3. That the claims “USN’s new 100% Whey Protein Plus provides the highest quality protein per serving for rapid uptake and its conversion into amino acids and muscle mass by your body” and “maximises muscle recovery & development” cannot be substantiated for: i.) there is no scientific evidence that ingested USN whey protein will maximise muscle recovery & development, and ii.), the measured level of protein in this product is far less than claimed on the label. Indeed, the amount of protein in a normal diet far exceeds the normal body requirements and taking a whey protein does not build nearly the same quality muscle as ingesting normal dietary protein, in particular beef, chicken, etc.

These claims are contrary to the evidence presented and therefore are misleading to the average consumer. If the company believes contrary to these arguments, then substantiation for the companies argument is required according to Clause 4.1 of Section II of the ASA’s Code, which states “Before advertising is published, advertisers shall hold in their possession documentary evidence as set out in Clause 4.1, to support all claims, whether direct or implied, that are capable of objective substantiation.” 

and 

“Documentary evidence, other than survey data, shall emanate from or be evaluated by a person/entity, which is independent, credible, and an expert in the particular field to which the claims relate and be acceptable to the ASA”.

I therefore argue that this products name and claims are misleading to the average consumer and are therefore contrary to the ASA code.

Sincerely,

Table 1

Analytical test results (triplicate)
(AOAC 992.15)
SAMPLEProtein content declared on label (per 100g)% Nitrogen% (g/100g) Protein
(%N x 6.25)
USN 100 % whey protein 980g (Batch G2208; MFG: 22.02.2012; Exp: 22.02.14)75.1 g9.9962.44
9.9862.34
10.062.50

 

The above table indicates that the label claims 75.1 g protein but measured it only reaches 62.5 g = 12.5 g less than indicated on the label.

These results were independently confirmed by a second laboratory and from a second product purchased at a different location than the first.

 

ASA response:

REFERENCE:    USN 100% WHEY PROTEIN / H STEINMAN / 21653

Dear Dr Steinman

The above matter has relevance.

We apologise for the delay in responding to you, however we had to revert to advertiser for clarity on the matter.

The advertiser informed the Directorate that the complained of label was last published in the beginning of 2012.

Hence, the label is no longer being used and furthermore does not meet the requirements of Clause 3.3 of the Procedural Guide: “The advertising complained against must be current and/or have been published within the last 90 days of lodging the complaint.” As such we will be shelving our file.

Thank you for your patience.

Yours sincerely the advertising standards authority of south africa

 

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