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Tetley misled tea-drinkers, says ASA

23rd October 2002

The Food Commission welcomes today's ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that claims for the heart-health benefits of Tetley Tea were exaggerated and misleading.

Earlier this year, roadside advertising hoardings around the country proclaimed: 'Go on, live a lot - Tetley is rich in antioxidants that can help keep your heart healthy.' One such advert even carried a 10-foot high flashing plastic heart.

"Consumers are interested in the links between diet and health and food companies are eager to associate their products with healthiness," said Kath Dalmeny, Research Officer for The Food Commission. "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."

The Food Commission's complaint to the ASA stated that:

  • Tetley Tea adverts made no reference to the consumption of antioxidants within the context of a healthy lifestyle. No single drink or food can guarantee heart health.
  • Tetley Tea adverts gave the strong impression that there is a proven link between antioxidants found in tea and heart health. The ASA has agreed that this is not true.
  • Tetley Tea's adverts said: "Go on, live a lot." The Food Commission believed that in the context of a "heart healthy" campaign, the advert could be understood to mean that if someone were to drink Tetley Tea they would live longer. The ASA has agreed that this is misleading.

The Food Commission remains concerned that packets of Tetley Tea continue to carry claims that may imply that drinking Tetley tea is good for the heart, and that associate Tetley Tea with the health-giving properties of fruit and vegetables. Whilst antioxidants in tea, fruit and vegetables may confer some health benefits, a link between tea consumption and heart health, as the ASA has agreed, is not proven.

Consensus scientific opinion states that people should aim to eat at least five portions fruit and vegetables per day. The wide-ranging health benefits of eating fruit and vegetables are conferred by the complex interaction of vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and other bioactive components (such as antioxidants) contained in fruit and vegetables.

For further information

Tel: 020 7837 2250.

Advertising Standards Association website http://www.asa.org.uk/

Note: The Food Commission also expects a ruling from the Independent Television Commission regarding a television advertisement in which Tetley made claims for the heart-health benefits of drinking Tetley Tea. This ruling is expected at the end of the month. Independent Television Commission website (complaints) http://www.itc.org.uk/