Innocent Drinks: health claims face opposition

Popular UK smoothie brand Innocent has been criticized by the Advertising Standards Authority over a health claim made by the company on one of its drinks. The reprimand from the advertising watchdog has highlighted the fine line that food and beverage companies must walk in convincing consumers of the health benefits of their products, while staying on the right side of regulatory rules.

In a national press ad for Innocent Superfoods Smoothies, the company called the drink a "natural detox superfoods smoothie" and added that the product "contains even more antioxidants than the average five a day", referring to the government-backed recommendation of five portions of fruit and vegetables a day to maintain a healthy diet.

However, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) regarded the claims as misleading due to overstatement of the detoxifying effect and the level of antioxidant content contained within the drink. The agency said that the claims appeared to be contrary to the accepted nutritional advice that for consumers to achieve the full benefit of eating five portions of fruit and vegetables each day, each portion must be derived from a different source of food, not just multiple portions of the same source. The evidence provided by Innocent to back their argument did not sufficiently disprove this accepted wisdom in the view of the ASA, and the agency asked Innocent to delete the claims.

In light of the action taken by the ASA, Richard Reed, the co-founder of Innocent drinks, commented: "We're sorry if anyone found the press ad confusing - that certainly wasn't our intention."

The unquestionable growing importance of health to consumers is a contributing factor in the rise of such products. Consumers are taking a more proactive approach to their own health, hoping to stave off health problems through their own actions.

However, companies such as Innocent Drinks face a particular conundrum, trying to sell products that combine aspects of both health and indulgence in the congested and heavily-regulated consumer goods arena. Such firms must convince consumers of the blend between these two seemingly opposite attributes, and do so with innovative approaches and advertising, as both the pace of change and degree of competition grow over time. This case will serve as a reminder to all firms that claims must be credible to appeal to savvy consumers and vigilant regulators.

For more information please visit

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.