The ASA has banned the Go Ahead maker from using the “crammed with 100% natural ingredients” claim on its poster ads as the snack bars contain refined sunflower oil and fat reduced cocoa powder, which the United Biscuits conceded go through “a degree of processing”.
The ASA ruling followed a complaint by a reader that the ingredients would be presumed by consumers to be completely natural.
United Biscuits – which also makes McVitie’s, Jacob’s and Carrs – said both ingredients were commonly found in consumers’ cupboards.
It added the ‘natural’ term – when used in relation to food – was not written into regulation, but guidance from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said ingredients could be described as natural if they were not chemically altered or produced using new technologies.
Natural or not?
While modern-day production of sunflower oil uses of a level of solvent extraction, the company believed the average consumer would still consider it to be a natural ingredient.
United Biscuits also said the fat reduced cocoa powder was created by making chocolate liquor, which was then washed with a potassium carbonate solution to reduce the acidity and bitterness – a traditional Dutch process that has been used for more than 100 years.
However, the ASA noted the FSA’s guidance stated that processes such as solvent extraction were not in line with current consumer expectations of ‘natural’.
Could confuse consumers
The watchdog said: “Products described as natural should be made using ingredients produced by nature and not the work of man or interfered with by man.
“For those reasons, we considered that neither sunflower oil nor fat reduced cocoa powder would be understood by consumers to be ‘natural’ ingredients.
“We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.”
A spokesperson for pladis, which owns United Biscuits, told BakeryandSnacks that it has removed the advert.
“We launched the advertising of our Goodness Bars with honest intentions as we are proud of the wholesome ingredients that go into this nutritious snack, understanding the product contained sunflower oil and cocoa powder, both of which are commonly found in consumers’ kitchens.
“Although we still believe these can be considered as natural ingredients, we, of course, accept and respect the ASA’s ruling.”
According to the company, one in five British households buy Go Ahead products.