Legal Update - What amounts to Misleading Website Advertising Claims

Consumer Product Regulatory Law – Advertising Claims – Holland & Barrett – “Qualified to advise” Claims – ASA 

 

The Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”) recently considered that claims made by Holland & Barrett that its members of staff are “qualified to advise” customers on a variety of matters around nutrition and supplements were not exaggerated and unlikely to mislead the public.

 

The Advert

 

A web page on Holland & Barrett’s website entitled “Qualified to advise” made the following claim:

 

"Our associates are: Qualified to advise ... Associates at H&B have a nationally recognised qualification in nutrition and supplements. Whether it's a question about Vitamin C or Whey Protein, Echinacea or Fish Oil, to find out which one of our hundreds of high quality supplements is right for you, pop into your nearest Holland & Barrett store to speak to an associate who is qualified to advise you on your nutritional supplement requirements. If you are taking supplements, take our advice. Holland & Barrett associates are now officially 'Qualified to Advise' ... Health, sports nutrition and supplement advice from some of our experts ..."

 

A complaint was made challenging whether the web page irresponsibly exaggerated the level of expertise of the Holland & Barrett’s staff.

 

Advertising Standard Authority’s Assessment

 

In carrying out its assessment, the ASA noted that:

 

  • The Holland & Barrett training programme for retail staff led to a QCF qualification, which was recognised by the Office of Qualifications and Examination Regulation (Ofqual).
    • After being provided with copies of course work, the ASA considered the course to be extensive and cover areas such as “safety, vitamins and minerals, healthy eating, herbal remedies, nutritional supplements and common ailments”.
    • The course outlined conditions for which the members of staff are not allowed to recommend products.
  • The claims made referred to advice to be given by Holland & Barrett staff in relation to nutrition and supplements, rather than general or individual health advice.

 

In reaching its decision not to reject the complaint, the ASA took the view that the course gave participants “suitable knowledge to be able to advise on nutrition and supplements and the advertising had not exaggerated their expertise in that area”. Furthermore, due to the fact that the qualification was a recognised qualification, the claims that the Holland & Barrett staff members of are qualified to advise on nutrition and supplements were deemed unlikely to mislead.

 

The ASA concluded that the advert did not breach the Code. For information around this, see the ASA’s website.


 

For any legal advice and assistance on food supplements, sport supplements or food regulation and complaince, nutrition or health claims,  labelling, advertising, marketing and promotional material, you may contact us by email enquiries@rtcooperssolicitors.com. Telephone 0207 488 9947 or Visit http://www.rtcoopers.com/practice_regulatory.php, http://www.rtcoopers.com/practice_food.php or http://www.rtcoopers.com/practice_foodsupplements.php.

 

© RT COOPERS, 2014. This Briefing Note does not provide a comprehensive or complete statement of the law relating to the issues discussed nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight general issues. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to particular circumstances.

 

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