ASA censors ads for prebiotic-fortified infant formula

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Immune system, Advertising, Breast milk

The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that an advertisement for Aptamil Follow On infant formula may not continue to be broadcast because it implies it can stop children from catching colds.

Two other complaints, from a total of ten viewers – that the advert suggested the prebiotic-fortified Aptamil provides the same benefits as breast milk; and that it is a natural progression from breast milk – were not upheld.

The ASA said it had received five complaints from the public that the ad for the Nutricia-owned Aptamil brand was misleading because it suggested “Aptamil Follow On could prevent children catching colds.”

The ASA’s ruling against Nutricia hangs on the visual representation of germs from another child's sneeze being repelled from a child that had been fed with Aptamil.

In a previous investigation, the ASA had ruled that Nutricia could advertise that Aptamil supports ‘some’ but not ‘all’ of an infant’s natural defences. In the new advertisement, the ASA noted that spoken claims such as "Aptamil Follow On contains Immunofortis to help support some of your baby's natural defences" ​– did refer to ‘some’ of an infants defences, but that the visual animation showed all of the germs being repelled.

“We…considered that implied the Aptamil Follow On available to the public would have a proven effect in supporting all children's natural immune systems by working alongside children's normal immune systems, including helping prevent them catching colds,”​ the ASA said.

In its defence, Nutricia said that it had chosen to refer to “complex data” ​supporting the effectiveness of its Immunofortis prebiotics “in a simple, visual way”​.

The company also noted that nowhere did the ad say babies would not catch colds if they were fed Aptamil.

Two weeks ago the ASA told the company to remove claims stating Aptamil was the "best follow on milk",​ as well as claims about infant immune system benefits, because of a lack of supporting evidence.

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