Health officers not pests, says ads watchdog


A COMPLAINT by the Environmental Health Officers' Association that its members were degraded by an advertisement in Food Ireland magazine has been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland.

The environmental health officers took exception to the head line on the advertisement from Russell Will Ltd, a Dublin chemical cleaning company.

It read "Rats! Germs!! Health Inspectors!!!. These are some of the PESTS that you want to keep off your premises!".

"The association stated that its members did not consider themselves to be pests and were offended at being associated with rats and germs. They considered that the advertisement degraded the status of their profession, which was held in high esteem", the ASAI's latest report says.

The company explained that its advertisement was intended to be an amusing, "tongue in cheek" appeal, pitched at catering establishments which disliked visits by environmental health officers.

However, it agreed that the headline could be seen as insulting.

An advertisement proclaiming Guinness as "one of our greatest natural resources" led to a complaint that it could not be so described because "vast amounts" of energy were used in making it.

But the ASAI accepted that it was intended to convey the imagery of stout.

Upholding a complaint about a sexist" advertisement from the Hotel St George, in Parnell Square, Dublin, stating that it was "ideal for the Business Man", the ASAI said advertisements "should reflect women's role in society and avoid stereotyping".

An advertisement by Ross McParland, estate agents, stating that there were apartments for sale "from £47,450" at Charlotte Quay, in Dublin, was not misleading, even though the few available at that price had been sold. But the ASAI said limited availability should be indicated.

Another complaint upheld by the ASAI involved an advertisement for the Toyota Carina which claimed that its "lean burn" engine was "capable of delivering an astonishing 57.6 mpg".

The omission of a qualification "at a constant 56 mph" was held to be a contravention of the code.

There were also objections to an Aer Lingus campaign offering transatlantic flights "from £299 return" this summer when this fare only applied to flights taken in April, May or October. The complaints committee noted the airline's response that steps had been taken to eliminate this "confusion".