Arla beats Lactofree TV challenge in UK

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Lactose intolerance, Milk, Arla

Danish dairy and ingredients giant Arla Foods has defeated a
challenge to the way it was marketing a lactose-free milk in the
UK.

Television adverts for the product, called Lactofree milk, stated: "Lactofree, the full taste of real milk, just without the lactose."​ Some viewers lodged complaints with the voluntary media watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), alleging the ads were "misleading and potentially harmful because they understood Lactofree contained 0.05% lactose." Thresholds and safety ​The ASA found in favour of Arla and took no action against the adverts. It noted Arla had labeled the products as potentially containing trace elements of lactose, but that this was a safe threshold and did not mean the products contained even that trace amount. Even if such trace amounts were present, Arla said they presented no health hazard and highlighted information on the UK Food Standards Agency's (FSA) website that illustrated lactose intolerance was not the same as a milk allergy, which caused more severe symptoms. Arla said filtration removed about 50 per cent of the lactose present in Lactofree, with the remainder hydrolysed (broken down) into glucose and galactose - two sugars that are easily digestible by the lactose-intolerant. This was done via the introduction of a lactose enzyme. The product was then regularly tested to ensure that "asfar as it was scientifically possible, no lactose was present."Under the radar ​ The company used, on a day-to-day basis, the only UK-accredited and widely accepted test for the detection of lactose - the liquid chromatography (HPLC) method. The 0.05% test, when compared to other detection tests, was an extremely sensitive test, Arla said, and noted that a detection level of 0.05% did not mean that lactose was necessarily present, "rather that if it was it could not be detected." ​Arla said other testing demonstrated Lactofree met 0.01% thresholds. It had decided to include the statement "with less than 0.05% lactose"​ on Lactofree packaging to inform consumers and ensure transparency. With this in mind Arla said it therefore believed that the "without the lactose"​ claim was substantiated and would not mislead viewers. ASA agreed, stating in its verdict that, "viewers were likely to understand from the ad that no lactose was present in Lactofree and that it would be safe for those with lactose intolerance to drink it without any adverse effects."​ It added: "Even if there was less than 0.05% lactose present in Lactofree it was unlikely to have any effect on someone who suffered from lactose intolerance. Because Arla had demonstrated that they had tested the product to the UK-accredited level and no lactose had been found, we concluded that the ad was unlikely to mislead or cause harm to viewers."

Related topics: Arla Foods, Ingredients

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