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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 March 2007, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
NZ vitamin C row hits Ribena firm
Ribena
Glaxo said UK health claims for Ribena were correct
The makers of Ribena have been fined for misleading the New Zealand public over vitamin C levels in the drink.

GlaxoSmithKline, which makes the fruit cordial, pleaded guilty to making incorrect health claims.

The ruling comes three years after two Auckland teenagers found the drink contained almost no trace of vitamin C.

Glaxo, which has been fined 227,500 New Zealand dollars ($163,700; 83,333), blamed testing methods and "incorrect labelling" for the confusion.

Misleading

Appearing before the Auckland District Court on 15 charges of breaching fair trading laws, GlaxoSmithKline pleaded guilty and admitted it may have misled consumers in adverts that said blackcurrants in Ribena syrup had four times the vitamin C of oranges.

High school students Anna Devathasan and Jenny Suo in 2004 had conducted tests in science lessons which showed Ribena contained much lower levels of Vitamin C than other fruit juice-based drinks.

Their findings were initially ignored by the company, but eventually came to the attention of the Commerce Commission, the New Zealand consumer watchdog, which brought the court action.

We are pleased the judge recognised that this was an inadvertent action
GlaxoSmithKline in a statement

In addition to the fine, the pharmaceutical giant was ordered to place advertisements in major metropolitan New Zealand newspapers to correct its mistakes.

In a written statement after the result, GlaxoSmithKline said: "We are pleased the judge recognised that this was an inadvertent action. It has never been our intention to mislead consumers in Australia and New Zealand, so we moved quickly to amend our advertising, labelling and testing procedures when the issue came to light."

It also moved to reassure British consumers, adding: "Thorough laboratory testing has confirmed that vitamin C levels in the UK are as stated on the label.

"UK Original Ready to Drink Ribena (288ml) provides 115% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA)."

The blackcurrant flavoured drink made its debut in the 1930s and is currently sold in 22 countries.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
School pupils on exposing Ribena claims



SEE ALSO
Court rules against Ribena
17 Jan 01 |  Health
Ribena to start blueberry version
08 Jan 06 |  Business

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