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Eagle by sunset - 3D render

Flu Jab marketing and ASA Double standards

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 10.14.39An example of the ASA’s double standards can be seen from a recent case. A complaint to the ASA about promotion for the flu jab, advertised by the complainant’s local GP surgery as “completely safe”, was initially rejected by the ASA even though the manufacturer would not even make such a claim.
The package insert for the vaccine includes a long list of side-effects and contraindications.

The ASA responded:
 “Although this, and other vaccinations, may result in some side-effects, we considered that the reference to safety was likely to be interpreted as relating to causing serious health problems and, at this time, we have no reason to believe that the vaccination is likely to cause such harm to consumers. On this basis, we concluded that the ad was unlikely to mislead consumers in the manner suggested, and as such we do not propose to take any further action with regards to your complaint at this time.”

One can only wonder what the response would have been like had a complementary therapy with known side-effects made the same claim. 

The complainant pointed out to the ASA:

“Flu vaccines have flu-like side-effects in many cases. They also account for the majority of compensation paid out under the US vaccine injury compensation programme. And since their introduction around 50,000 serious adverse events have been reported to the US adverse events reporting system, 5,500 of which were deaths, life-threatening conditions or permanent disability.”

Following a further complaint to the ASA, this time by a GP and addressing a long list of practices and Clinical Commissioning Groups websites, the ASA did act by referring the matter to the MHRA, who in turn referred it to Public Health England. 

It seems unlikely that much will change in practice but such blatantly wrong claims have to be challenged. Moreover, cases like this one help highlight the hypocrisy and double-standards applied by ASA Ltd.



CAP year-long review concludes that ‘junk food’ ads don’t encourage children to eat harmful foods

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Another example of one rule for Natural health and another for Big food industry. A year-long review commissioned by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), concluded there was not enough evidence to suggest online food and drink marketing had an effect on children. The result is that Marketing companies are free to continue using ‘advergames’ – addictive, heavily branded, free online games – to promote products high in saturated fat, salt and sugar.
Health Campaigners including the British Heart Foundation, the Children’s Food Campaign and Action on Sugar were all highly disappointed with the report whilst F4H called this yet another example of ASA related double standards. MP Sarah Wollaston, Chair of the Commons Health Select Committee, said: “It is time to stand up to the food giants who are flooding our children with adverts for unhealthy food and drink, at a time when a quarter of the most disadvantaged are leaving primary school facing a lifetime of health problems as a result of obesity. This was a wasted opportunity to protect children from the deluge of advertising.”

Hungry for Change film

Have you watched the latest Hungry for Change film?
The documentary exposes the diet and food industry though talking with heath gurus like David Wolfe, Jamie Oliver, Kris Carr and Joe Cross, to name a few. The film takes us on a journey from childhood to adulthood looking at how the food industry uses marketing and propaganda to target and lock you in from as young as 3 years old playing on your insecurities as teens and adults and all ending with one destination – chronic health issues.


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