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Knorr Vie soup advertASA slams health claims on salty soups

9th July, 2003

The Food Commission welcomes the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruling against advertising claims made for Knorr Vie carton soup. The advert, which appeared in the trade magazine The Grocer in December 2002, claimed that one carton of Knorr Vie soup could contribute up to three portions of vegetables.

Whilst the ASA said that companies can claim that vegetables in processed soup contribute to a person’s fruit and vegetable intake, the advertising watchdog agreed with the Food Commission that Knorr’s soup was too salty to be promoted as a healthy product using the ‘five a day’ message. We note that one serving (500ml) of Knorr Vie Country Vegetable Soup contains 5g of salt (2g of sodium). This is the maximum recommended daily intake of salt for an adult woman (the maximum for men is 6g).

The ASA also agreed with the Food Commission that Knorr (a division of Unilever Bestfoods) had exaggerated how much fruit and vegetables a consumer get from a single serving, because a lot of it came from tomatoes, so didn't represent enough variety. Variety is a key part of the ‘five a day’ health message, since health benefits are associated with eating a wide range of different fruits and vegetables.

“The five a day message was developed by health experts to help people eat a healthier diet to cut their risk of heart disease and diet-related cancers,” said Food Commission campaigner Kath Dalmeny. “It should not be used by companies to promote their salty foods, since high salt intake is associated with raised blood pressure. Most people are already eating too much salt in their diets, mainly from processed foods.”

The Independent Television Commission (ITC), which assesses television advertising, has already approved the Knorr claims for broadcast on UK television, and has refused to uphold a similar complaint from the Food Commission.

This ASA judgement follows a previous ruling by the ASA that Heinz should not claim that tomato puree in its canned soups, beans and spaghetti contributes more than one portion to the five-a-day target.

Recognising that several major manufacturers have begun to use five-a-day claims for composite foods (sometimes products containing high levels of fat, sugar and/or salt, and/or minimal amounts of fruit or vegetables) the Food Standards Agency is currently developing guidelines to send to regional trading standards officers, advising how to deal with such problems. The contact for details of this guidance is: Sharon Young, Enforcement Division of the Food Standards Agency on 020 7276 8000 or sharon.young@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk

For further details of this story, call 020 7837 2250.