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“Skinny” brand name is a prohibited health claim, ASA rules


Jun 01, 2021

A recent ruling by the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found that a Facebook post featuring an image with a man holding four spice mixes with the label text stating “Skinny Spices” breached Regulation (EC) No. 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims and instructed the manufacturer to  remove it.

In addition, the post included a list stating “Natural Ingredients”, “Enhances Flavor”, “Vegan”, “Zero teaspoons of added sugar”.

The defendant argued its brand had a range of products that were linked to the brand names “Skinny” (such as, ‘skinny sauce’ and ‘skinny syrup’). Moreover, it was alleged that the products were lower in sugar, fat, or calories in comparison to similar products in the marketplace, but they were not marketed as “weight loss” products.

After consulting with food standards groups, ASA considered that although “Skinny Spices” was a registered trademark and was used on many products in the same range, the claim was a health claim pursuant to EC Regulation 1924/2006 as it would be “understood by consumers as linked to weight loss or helping to maintain weight when compared to alternative products and would therefore need to contain a substance or substances, in a significant quantity that would produce the physiological effect of weight loss or maintenance, for which there was an authorized health claim relating to weight loss or maintenance.” Nevertheless, ASA acknowledged that in this case, there were no authorized health claims relating to weight loss or maintenance for the products in the “Skinny spices” range or for substances contained in the products.

ASA went even further by considering that even if the claim was not a health claim, it would either be considered a non-permitted nutrition claim, because the spices would produce a negligible nutritional benefit compared to regular versions of the product or a non-permitted general health claim because of the product’s composition. 

The defendant was instructed to remove the “Skinny spices” claims from all its products unless they complied with the above conditions.

Article 1(3) of the Regulation on nutrition and health claims states “A trade mark, brand name or fancy name appearing in the labelling, presentation or advertising of a food which may be construed as a nutrition or health claim may be used without undergoing the authorization procedures provided for in this Regulation, provided that it is accompanied by a related nutrition or health claim in that labelling, presentation or advertising which complies with the provisions of this Regulation.”

All nutrition and health claims should be truthful and not misleading. They must be understood by the average consumer, which is not the easiest task as value or importance placed on claim information may depend on the level of prior knowledge a consumer has about the link between the nutrient and potential the health benefits. Thus, companies and advertisers must make sure their claims are clear, accurate and are based on scientific evidence.

ASA Ruling on Not Guilty Food Co Ltd (14 April 2021) - link

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