BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Health  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Medical notes
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 22 October, 2002, 22:31 GMT 23:31 UK
Healthy tea claims 'not proven'
Tea
There were complaints about the health claims
A major tea company has been rapped for claiming that the drink is good for your heart and implying it may help you live longer.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled there was insufficient scientific evidence to back up the claims, made in adverts run by Tetley GB Ltd.


It is important that we don't give up on our quest to promote the health benefits of tea

Nick Kilby

The Food Commission lodged a complaint with the ASA about two posters for Tetley tea.

One was headlined "Tetley (picture of a heart) U" and the other "Go on, live a lot".

The text claimed that "Tetley is rich in antioxidants that can help keep your heart healthy".

The Food Commission argued it was misleading to claim tea had proven health benefits, and that the slogan "Go on, live a lot" misleadingly implied that drinking tea would prolong life.

Heart logo

Tetley, which carries the British Heart Foundation logo on some of its products, argued its claims were based on a substantial body of research by leading medical experts.

The company sent details of 31 studies in support of its submission.

Tetley's old campaign
The animated Tetley folk were replaced for the heart campaign

It argued that the advert claimed only that tea "can" help heart health, not that it definitely would.

And it said that, because Tetley tea was refreshing and uplifting, readers were likely to infer from the phrase "Go on, live a lot" that the drink provided an emotional, not a physiological benefit.

However, experts advised the ASA that some studies had found no increased health benefits from drinking tea, and that overall the evidence was inconsistent.

The ASA accepted that antioxidants might help prevent coronary heart disease.

However, it said the evidence from Tetley failed to provide information about the type of antioxidants found in its tea products, or the level at which they would be absorbed by tea drinkers.

Lack of proof

In its adjudication, the ASA says: "The Authority considered that readers of the claim 'Tetley is rich in antioxidants that can help keep your heart healthy' would infer that drinking Tetley tea benefited heart health and considered that the advertisers had not proved that it could or would.

"It concluded that, because the health benefits of drinking Tetley tea had not been proven, the claim was misleading."

The ASA also expressed concern that Tetley had ignored advice on a similar heart health claim issued by Committee of Advertising Practice.

Nick Kilby, Tetley GB Marketing and Development Director said he was "astonished" by the ruling.

"There is a lot of independent scientific evidence out there to support tea as a healthy drink.

"We have not received a single complaint from consumers and are still 100% confident in our marketing approach.

"It is important that we don't give up on our quest to promote the health benefits of tea, and we are considering our options for future campaigns.

"It will be a sad day for the British cuppa, if we are completely gagged on this subject."

No excuse

Kath Dalmeny, of the Food Commission, welcomed the ASA ruling.

She said: "Consumers are interested in the links between diet and health and food companies are eager to associate their products with healthiness.

"Sales in the hot-drinks sector have been flagging over the past few years.

"But this is no excuse for companies like Tetley to make exaggerated and misleading claims to boost their sales."

Tetley has been ordered to change its claims with help from the Committee on Advertising Practice Copy.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Caroline Bayley
"The scientific evidence was inconclusive"
Claire Forbes, Advertising Standards Agency
"They failed to provide us with conclusive proof"
See also:

27 Feb 02 | Health
09 Apr 02 | Health
23 Jul 01 | Health
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes