Omega-3 supplement maker told to add disclaimer to advertising
A supplier of omega-3 supplements called Brain Boosters has been told it must include a disclaimer to the brand name in any advertising of the product.
The UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which operates under a voluntary code, said Healthspan Group must take the unusual step after receiving a complaint about an e-mail advertisement the company distributed. Alongside a pack shot of Omega 3 Fish Oil Brain Boosters, it stated: "Ideal for children who dislike the taste of fish or have difficulty swallowing capsules, two delicious fruity Brain Boosters provide 180mg DHA and 120mg EPA for improved concentration and brain function."
One complainant challenged the claim that taking Brain Boosters would improve children's concentration and brain function, calling it misleading. The ASA itself also challenged whether the name Brain Boosters implied that the product would improve brain function.
The company was not available for comment, though in its defence, Healthspan submitted a document outlining published scientific research on the effect of omega-3 on children's concentration and brain function. It also said it sought independent regulatory advice about the name of the product before it was launched in March 2005. In addition, the company pointed out there were other similar products on the market with similar names.
The ASA was unmoved, however, and upheld both complaints. It said the scientific documents supplied by Healthspan were "not sufficient to substantiate the claim made in the ad" and argued that the name Brain Boosters "implied that the product could dramatically enhance children's brain function."
It added: "Because we had not seen evidence that demonstrated the efficacy of the product, we considered that the name Brain Boosters was likely to mislead. Because the name Brain Boosters was a registered trademark we told Healthspan to include a disclaimer in future ads that made it clear that the product had not been proven to boost brain function."