Water company hit over 'medicinal claim'

Works With Water ad runs afoul of 1996 food-labelling regulations

An advertisement for a functional water has been banned in the UK over claims the product can lower blood pressure.

Lancashire-based Works With Water Nutraceuticals was told by the London-based Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) not to repeat the press advert for its 120/80 water because it could discourage sufferers of high blood pressure from seeking medical attention for their condition, and contained medicinal claims for an unauthorised product.

The advert for the water, which contains dairy peptides, appeared in the national newspaper The Daily Telegraph and consisted of a front-page flash stating: "Lower your blood pressure with our free spring water."

A promotion inside claimed: "The first spring water developed especially to tackle the growing problem of high blood pressure … 120/80, named after the optimum blood-pressure level, is the first spring water in the UK to contain dairy peptides, which are derived from milk protein and clinically proven to be effective in the lowering and management of blood pressure."

Addressing the ASA's complaint, Works With Water said it took "extreme care" to ensure it did not mislead consumers by claiming or implying its products could treat, prevent or cure disease, or discourage essential treatment for a serious medical condition. The company said the headline inside should have stated, "Free spring water for every reader to help lower your blood pressure," but that the word "help" was omitted due to a proofing error, for which it accepted full responsibility. But it said The Daily Telegraph was responsible for the front-page flash or content. The company said it did not intend to repeat the promotion.

The ASA verdict noted the copy should have stated, "help lower your blood pressure." But it said it also noted "numerous references" to lowering blood pressure, and the claim: "the UK's first spring water developed especially to tackle the growing problem of high blood pressure," along with other claims, was considered to be medicinal under the Food Labelling Regulations 1996. "We concluded that the ad made medicinal claims for an unauthorised product."

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