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ASA confirms that “suitable for diabetics” claim is misleading


Apr 07, 2023

In a recent ASA case, the advertising standards authority came to the conclusion that a claim that a food is suitable for diabetics was misleading according to Article 7 (1) (c) of Regulation 1169/2011 and reminds food business operators that a specific claim must have a similar meaning as the wording of the authorized specific claims in the GB NHC Register. 
In this case, several claims were made on an ice cream product website, mainly indicating that the product was suitable for diabetics, and it was made with fructose, “a natural simple sugar found in honey and fruit which carries a lower glycaemic load, or glycaemic index”.

Regarding the claim “suitable for diabetics”, the ASA indicated that the requirements of Article 7 (1) (c) Regulation (EU) 1169/2011 applied in this case, which indicated that “food information should not be misleading by suggesting that the food possessed special characteristics when in fact all similar foods possessed such characteristics, in particular by specifically emphasising the presence or absence of certain ingredients and/or nutrients”. Therefore, it considered the claim “suitable for diabetics” misleading because it implied that no similar foods were suitable for diabetics when that was not the case. The advertising authority added that people with diabetes were able to consume all types of food, including ice cream, within the context of a healthy and balanced diet, and that specialist foods were not necessary.  This is in line with what was previously confirmed by the UK government, Diabetes UK and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance to health care professionals, who stated that people with diabetes should manage their condition by consuming a healthy balanced diet and that specialist foods are not necessary. 

Regarding the second claim on “lower glycaemic load, or glycaemic index”, the ASA concluded that it had to be reworded because the authorized health claim in the GB NHC Register, “Consumption of foods containing fructose leads to a lower blood glucose rise compared to foods containing sucrose or glucose”, did not refer to fructose having a lower glycaemic index or load and it causing a slower rise in blood glucose levels compared to sucrose and glucose.

The claim “suitable for diabetics” has been subject to various discussions over the last few years.  Diabetes UK have been calling for an end to the use of terms such as 'diabetic' or 'suitable for diabetics' on food labels. This was also stated by the European Commission (EC), who concluded that there are no grounds for developing specific compositional requirements for foods intended for people with diabetes. 

For further information (in English), click on the Link


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