Makers of a snack bar have been banned from calling it “100 per cent natural” after a watchdog decided the claim is not in line with customers’ meaning of the term.
Posters advertising the Go Ahead Goodness Bar claimed the snack was “crammed with 100% natural ingredients”.
A reader complained to the Advertising Standards Authority, claiming the product contains ingredients which would not be understood by customers to be natural.
This is because sunflower oil and fat reduced cocoa powder in the bars underwent processing.
United Biscuits, who make the bars, said the technology used to do this had existed for many years and both ingredients were commonly found in consumers’ cupboards.
The ASA agreed, and ruled that the Go Ahead Goodness Bar could no longer use the term.
The ASA said consumers would understand the term “natural” in the context of the claim to mean the product was made using ingredients that were completely natural.
It said: “We considered consumers would understand that some processing may need to take place in order to make a naturally found ingredient fit for human consumption, but that such processing would be minimal,” noting that the FSA’s guidance stated that processes such as solvent extraction were not in line with with current consumer expectations of “natural”.
It added: “For those reasons, we considered that neither sunflower oil nor fat reduced cocoa powder would be understood by consumers to be ‘natural’ ingredients.
“We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.”
It ruled that the ad must not appear again in its current form and told United Biscuits “not to refer to ingredients as natural unless they were in line with consumer expectations of the term ‘natural”‘.
United Biscuits, which owns the Go Ahead brand, said the term when used in relation to food was not written into regulation, but guidance from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said ingredients could be described as natural if they were not chemically altered or produced using new technologies.
While the modern-day production of sunflower oil made use of a level of solvent extraction, the company believed the average consumer would still consider it to be a natural ingredient.
It said the fat reduced cocoa powder was created by making chocolate liquor, which was then washed with a potassium carbonate solution to reduce the acidity and bitterness – a traditional Dutch process which had been used for more than 100 years.