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The BBC's Nicola Carslaw
"The producers want a judicial review"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 11 July, 2000, 23:33 GMT 00:33 UK
Court action over Ribena claims
Ribena ToothKind
The ASA says the drink can still cause tooth decay
An Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruling against a fruit drink maker is to be challenged in the High Court.

SmithKline Beecham, which manufactures "Ribena ToothKind" has been carpeted by the authority for advertisements saying the drink did not encourage tooth decay.

The ASA, which carried out a two-year investigation, was also critical of a poster showing bottles of the product in place of bristles on a toothbrush.

The ASA said that the claims were misleading, as the drink was simply less harmful than other sugary drinks, rather than not harmful at all.

Chris Reed, of the ASA, said: "We studied all the available evidence and SmithKline Beecham could not prove that it does not encourage tooth decay."

However, the drink has been sanctioned by the British Dental Association.

SmithKline Beecham has been given permission to apply for judicial review of the ruling in the High Court.

And the British Dental Association is standing by its "accreditation" of the drink - it claims the ASA did not take advice from the UK's leading experts.

The ASA was prompted by complaints from pressure groups such as Action and Information on Sugar.

The consumer magazine Which? also called on the BDA to withdraw its support for the drink.

Lower sugar levels

It found there were still high levels of sugar in the drink, although not as high as in some other drinks aimed at children.

The BDA says that the presence of additional calcium in this type of Ribena has a protective effect not taken into account by the ASA.

Dr Geoff Craig, chair of the BDA's health and science committee, said: "The ASA's decision will not affect the BDA's support for a soft drink that dentists can recommend with confidence."

The dental health of the UK's children has long been a source of concern to dentists, with sugary drinks blamed for high levels of decay.

As many as 28% of three to four year olds in the government's recent diet and nutrition survey had evidence of some dental erosion.

The BDA itself recommends that milk and water are the two most recommended drinks parents should be giving to children.

SmithKline Beecham says the blackcurrants it grows and the process it uses to develop the product mean the drink does not encourage tooth decay - and says it has 1,200 pages of scientific data to substantiate its claim.

Graham Neale, from the company, said: "Leading oral health scientists have reviewed all the data and they completely support all our claims so we are not changing anything."

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