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Nestlé hits back at cereal ad critics

By Rod Addy , 28-Aug-2012
Last updated on 29-Aug-2012 at 10:33 GMT

Nestlé's Battle of the Breakfasts ad campaign has stirred up controversy
Nestlé's Battle of the Breakfasts ad campaign has stirred up controversy

Nestlé UK has responded to critics of its cereal advertising that are claiming it contravenes Advertising Standards Authority rules, claiming the ASA has given the campaign the thumbs up.

Nestlé Cereal Partners UK has been criticised for running whole grain claims concerning its breakfast cereals online and in national newspaper adverts as part of its ‘Battle of the Breakfasts’ advertising campaign.

Consumer group Children’s Food Campaign claims the adverts and online coverage contravene a ruling made by the UK’s ASA four years ago. The ruling bars the food manufacturing giant from advising that consumers should “eat at least three portions of whole grain a day”.

Nestlé's response

In response, Nestlé stated: “Nestlé Cereals  takes its advertising responsibilities under the CAP Code very seriously.

“We were contacted by the ASA regarding the recommendation to eat at least three portions of whole grain a day referred to on the Battle of the Breakfasts website.  The ASA considered that this recommendation, as qualified on the website as guidance from the US dietary guidelines, does not breach the CAP (Committee of Advertising Practice) Code.

 We will continue  to  co-operate  with the ASA and CAP to ensure that our Battle of the Breakfasts website complies fully with the CAP code."

Principal complaint

However, the Children’s Food Campaign claims Nestlé is flouting the ASA ruling. In a letter of complaint written to the ASA seen by FoodNavigator, the group states: “The principle complaint is that Nestle is making an identical health and nutrition claim about whole grain which was forbidden by the ASA in a 2008 adjudiction.

“As our research shows that there have been no changes in permissible nutrition and health claims relevant to this claim (or any new information cited by Nestle on the website), we believe that Nestle’s website is misleading and will lead to many people incorrectly believing the 3-a-day whole grain advice. We cannot see how it can be allowed in its current form.”

The ASA is understood to have referred the matter to its compliance team in May. However, it gave no indication to FoodNavigator of its position.

Stirring up controversy

The section of Nestlé’s website stirring up controversy reads: “Experts recommend that we eat at least three portions of whole grain a day and breakfast is the ideal time for you and your family to get one or more servings of whole grain.

“Whole grains are simply grains that contain all three edible parts: the germ, endosperm and the bran. Together they provide a range of vitamins, minerals, fibre, starch and other nutrients, so whole grains can contribute to a varied, balanced diet.

“All Nestlé cereals are made with whole grain. To check out how much whole grain is in each serving of Nestlé cereals, just check the green banner – our whole grain guarantee.”

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