Beware of food advertisements

Sanction on companies for lies in advertisements

Today we are going to discuss an issue that is deeply rooted with our advertisement based society: lies in advertisements.

This is a huge problems, as when those lies are made on food industry it’s about the citizen’s health that we are talking about, and it’s not anymore something merely monetary related. So, let’s see what has recently happened in Italy that provoked in us such a reflection: the Italian Antitrust (the Italian CMA) has recently sanctioned many companies for their misleading advertising.

Which was the reason?

The advertised products boasted properties beneficial to human health that were not supported by serious scientific studies and in some cases data on reference intake levels were also incorrectly manipulated. Enriched with?

The best-known case now is that of the commercial of a well-known yogurt that boasted of being almost indispensable to prevent osteoporosis in women; well in this specific case the data had been not little manipulated since:

The advertising message highlighted the insufficient intake of calcium in a large part of the Italian female population, it is based on the results of a single study, moreover, carried out on samples of people with peculiar and non-generalizable nutritional needs. In fact, the fact that 2 out of 3 women do not take enough calcium with the diet is “deceptive” and such as to “mislead the average consumer, leading him to believe that there is an acclaimed lack of calcium on a large part of the population” when, however, it is not true. Enriched with? Another reason why the advertisement was “misleading” was in a manipulative attempt to suggest that the consumption of milk and cheese is not sufficient to guarantee normal calcium requirements, when most scientific studies show that calcium deficiency is for some age groups only mild or very small in scope, and can be safely filled with a varied and balanced diet (“the appropriate calcium intake , as is well known, may result from a plurality of foods including drinking water itself”).

The monetary sanction

For these reasons, the Antitrust Authority, in 2012, decided to sanction the producing company with a fine of 180,000 euros. The reason for the judgment is that the advertising message misled the consumer as to the actual need to take on the product.

At this point it would be thought that the food companies, having seen the power of antitrust to take certain decisions and apply certain sanctions, no longer used misleading advertising and with unclear content, but this was not the case, after the case of that product, others have sprouted up concerning products of different categories.

In fact, many products, especially dietary supplements, were passed off as indispensable for a healthy life, boasting energizing skills greater than caffeine or reducing the absorption of sugars or keeping cholesterol under control; but advertising of many mineral waters was also considered incorrect as these guaranteed the prevention of diseases such as cancers on the basis of non-existent scientific studies.

Finally, one case that makes one think of the unethical that certain companies have is to advertise food supplements for children, making fun of the maternal instinct of every mother who is willing to do anything to guarantee the best to her child, even spending a lot of money on enriched foods, which were defined as indispensable for proper growth, when in reality it was only an escamotage to sell more easily.

From this information you can understand how easy it is to fall into deception by listening exclusively to advertisements, and even if the Antitrust tries to expose all these scams its judgment always comes after these have been partly carried out to the detriment of consumers …

So watch out! if you have a doubt write,

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