Two BirdsEye adverts have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)for making comparisons between the amount of vitamins in fresh and frozen vegetables.
One of the adverts, which featured a toy bear holding a clipboard sitting beside a bag of Birds Eye Field Fresh Broccoli Florets, said: “30% more vitamins than fresh vegetables.* I’ve just read the research.” Vertical text up the side of the ad read “* D J Favell Study 1998 Ref Vit C. IFR Extra 2010.” This advert was also considered to be breaching CAP Code rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.11 (Exaggeration), 15.1 and 15.3 (Food, food supplements and associated health or nutrition claims).
The ASA noted the Favell study, which was referred to in the ads, had solely examined levels of vitamin C in the vegetables. It said that for vitamins which were less vulnerable to chemical oxidation and less water soluble than vitamin C, the rate of retention in fresh vegetables could be greater than that for vitamin C, and therefore the percentage difference between frozen and fresh vegetables in relation to other vitamins could be less than the 30% claimed. While the side text did say ‘Vit C’, the ASA said that it was likely to be interpreted as referring to all vitamins.
The ASA said: “Because the evidence related only to vitamin C and because it was not always the case that frozen vegetables had 30% more vitamins than the fresh equivalent, we considered the claim “30% more vitamins than fresh vegetables” had not been substantiated and was misleading.
“We noted that Birds Eye did not agree with our interpretation of the Regulation, because they considered that the claim did not seek to state or imply that frozen vegetables had particular nutritional properties, but rather the claim was seeking to highlight the impact that freezing had on vegetables as compared to chilled or chilled/ambient storage. We understood they considered that a claim regarding differing rates of deterioration of foods under different storage conditions, and the consequent levels of vitamins retained, did not amount to a nutrition claim under the Regulations.
“Because the claim did not comply with the criteria for comparative nutrition claims set down in the Regulation, we concluded that it should not have been made.”