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ASA raps Purity Laboratories for misleading tooth whitening claims

By Michelle YEOMANS , 30-Oct-2012
Last updated the 03-May-2013 at 09:49 GMT

A print and online advert for the UK company's 'Beverly Hills Formula' whitening toothpastes has brushed the Advertising Standards Authority up the wrong way by exaggerating the time the products take to whiten the teeth.

The print ad for the toothpaste product line in question claims "From rapid action for sensitive teeth to hard-working total enamel protection, there's a Beverley Hills Formula toothpaste for you. Each formula is proven to give you whiter teeth in just one minute."

While a product page on the website for the brand's 'Sensitive Whitening Expert', states that "a study conducted at Bristol University Dental School proved that Beverly Hills Formula toothpaste can remove over 90 per cent of staining in just 1 minute.

The complaint

Church & Dwight UK, a fellow toothpaste manufacturer filed complaint with the authority as it believed, based on its experience in the sector that claiming the products had the ability to remove all stains in just one minute, was misleading.

And that the information on tests conducted at 'Bristol University Dental School' were also misleadingly as it implied that they were conducted on all of the products, when they understood that this was not the case.

Response

Purity Laboratories responded stating that the claims could be substantiated by the results of tests that were independently carried out by Bristol University and that nowhere in their marketing material did it say that the products could 'remove all stains in 1 minute', but instead 'removed 90 per cent of stains in five minutes'.

According to the ASA, the company then submitted stain removal data for Beverly Hills Formula toothpastes and mouthwashes and an e-mail from their manufacturer which explained what the stain removal technology was based on.

"We recieved a stain removal protocol document from 2009, an e-mail from Bristol University and a list of toothpastes they said had been tested in 2012, which included Natural Whitening Expert, Stain Removal Perfect White, Dentist's Choice Gum & Whitening Expert Sensitive, Natural White and Sensitive Whitening."

ASA: claims are upheld

Although the Association acknowledges that the stain removal document provided listed four Beverly Hills products and figures for their baseline measurements as well as after one minute and two minutes, they did not receive any information as to what measurement system the figures related to.

"The full test results were not supplied and we did not receive any information about how the removal of stains had been measured, how the figures had been calculated, or on what basis the 'whiter teeth in just one minute' claim had been made."

And that "while Purity Laboratories said they were expecting to receive a more detailed report with amended product names , they did not hold the full report at the time the ads were published, therefore scientific evidence to substantiate the claims had not been in existance and breached the Code."

Advice

The ASA ruled that the ads  must not appear again in their current form and told "Purity Laboratories not to make claims that their products could remove stains in one minute, unless they were substantiated by robust, scientific evidence, available prior to publication."

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