Supplement scores a fail for claiming it can raise pupils' exam marks

Bio-Strath has been instructed to withdraw ads claiming the product can improve a child's exam results.
Bio-Strath has been instructed to withdraw ads claiming the product can improve a child's exam results.
Image: Bio-Strath

TV and radio adverts suggesting a nutritional supplement can improve a child’s exam marks by 30% have been banned.

The decision by the advertising watchdog follows complaints by consumers Siebert Kruger and Louis Fourie about ads for Bio-Strath.

They said the claim, in the form of a mother’s testimonial, was an “unproven and misleading statement”.

Fourie told the Advertising Regulatory Board in his complaint: “If the claimed impact on academic performance were true, this product would provide the solution to South Africa’s educational crisis.”

Kruger said at best, taking the supplement could contribute to improved brain functioning. But the way Bio-Strath marketed its product “ignores the significance of psychological, medicinal, genetic, environmental and individual factors which [affect] ability to perform well.”

He said the portrayal of the supplement as a quick fix for poor results was “blatantly opportunistic”.

SA Natural products, which markets Bio-Strath in SA, said the ad clearly presented its claims in the form of a mother’s testimonial.

“Relying on such information cannot be regarded as deceitful, and is unlikely to be interpreted as a suggestion that using this product would yield similar improvements for all other customers,” it said.

But the watchdog said the assumed underlying message of the advertisement was that “it worked for me, and will work for you”.

“Testimonials cannot be used as a vehicle for unproven efficacy claims,” the board said, adding that the mother whose words were used in the advert submitted her endorsement in 2006, and it was unclear whether her observations were still relevant.

It said SA Natural Products should immediately stop using the ads.

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