Iceland ad discrediting Food Safety Authority banned
UK advertising authority says it discredits Irish food watchdog
The Iceland ad did not make clear that FSAI tests used an established methodology, the ASA said.
A newspaper advert for supermarket chain Iceland has been banned in the United Kingdom after it was found to have discredited the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.
The ad, headed “Food you can trust”, claimed a test used by the FSAI which detected horse DNA of 0.1 per cent in two Iceland burgers was not accredited. It also stated, “No horsemeat has ever been found in an Iceland product”.
A complainant contacted the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to say the ad was misleading in claiming no horsemeat had ever been found in an Iceland product and, secondly, that it denigrated the FSAI.
The ASA upheld the latter complaint but rejected the claim the ad was misleading. The FSAI welcomed the decision.
The advertising authority said the FSAI carried out two tests before publishing its findings and although the first test did not use accredited methodology, the second tests did.
“We therefore understood that the claim ‘The testing method used by the FSAI was not an accredited test’ referred only to the initial tests and not the second – accredited – set of tests,” the ASA said.
Furthermore, it found unaccredited tests used an established methodology “commonly used in North America”, a fact the ad did not make clear.
“The overall impression created by the ad was that the FSAI had not taken due care to ensure the accuracy or validity of the tests used,” the ASA said. “We understood that was not the case. We concluded the ad discredited the FSAI.”
As a result, the ad, which appeared in the i newspaper, must not appear again in its current form, the ASA said, adding, “we told Iceland to ensure their advertising did not discredit or denigrate organisations in future”.
Separately, the ASA found the ad’s claim that no horsemeat had been found in Iceland products was not misleading, saying it drew a legitimate distinction between horsemeat and horse DNA.
“The level of horse DNA found in two of their burgers was so low that it was regarded as ‘trace’ levels which were likely to have been caused by accidental carry-over,” it said.
The FSAI said it was unaware of who made the complaint but welcomed the ASA’s decision to uphold it. “The FSAI is pleased that the ASA upheld the complaint that our test results were valid,” a spokeswoman said.
She added: “When the ad was published, we raised the matter with Iceland who agreed to cease using it.”