Companies reported to the ASA for allegedly targeting children with ‘half-truths’
By Tamara Cohen
Last updated at 1:38 AM on 30th December 2011
Firms producing sweets and soft drinks have been accused of misleading consumers about the amount of sugar in their products.
The makers of Chupa Chups lollipops, Nutella, Coca-Cola, Britvic and even the British Soft Drinks Association have been reported to the Advertising Standards Authority for allegedly targeting children with ‘half-truths’.
While junk food advertising is banned during children’s television programmes, campaigners fear companies are using the internet as a loophole.
In a poll by the Children’s Food Campaign, Chupa Chups was voted the worst offender for a video on its website suggesting its yellow lollipops are made only from real lemon juice.
In fact, they contain just 3 per cent fruit and are mostly made of sugar and glucose syrup, according to the label.
The runner-up was the British Soft Drinks Association, the industry’s trade body, which claimed in educational materials on its website that ‘small quantities of sugar’ may need to be added to fruit juices because ‘variations in climate and reduced sunshine levels can affect the crop’.
The campaign group said the claim was ‘disingenuous’.
Third on the list, voted for by 1,000 people contacted by the Children’s Food Campaign, was soft drink maker Britvic.
It claimed on an educational website that ‘dentists believe insufficient saliva, a side effect of not drinking enough, may be a major cause of tooth decay’.
It was not made clear that soft drinks contain sugar and are often acidic – major causes of decay.
Coca-Cola, which owns the brand Glaceau Vitaminwater, claimed online that it is a range of ‘spring waters with fruit juice, and enriched with minerals and vitamins’.
The campaigners say only three out of the eight products in the range contain fruit and in those that do, it is actually fruit concentrate.
Last on the list was Nutella, which was reported to the ASA earlier this year for a TV commercial that mentioned the product’s hazelnut content but not sugar – the first ingredient on the label. The complaint was not upheld.
Kawther Hashem of the Children’s Food Campaign said: ‘It is unforgivable that junk food companies relentlessly target children, but also shamelessly mislead the public with half-truths and made-up so-called facts.’
She urged the Government to protect children with ‘consistent advertising regulations and vigorous enforcement across all forms of media’.
The British Soft Drinks Association accused the campaign group of ‘misrepresenting information’ on its website.
Chupa Chups declined to comment on its website video.
Coca-Cola said an ‘incorrect description’ on the Glaceau section of its website had been removed.
No one was available to comment at Britvic yesterday. Nutella maker Ferrero could not be reached.