Retailer ad falls foul over implied organic claim


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Related tags Organic food Us

An advert for hair and body wash by UK retailer Boots has been banned over misleading implications that the product meets organic standards.

The confusion arose as there is no legal standard for cosmetics in the UK and the certification bodies’ standards all differ slightly.

The advert in question featured on the Boots website stated: "Little Me Organics Oh So Gentle Hair and Body Wash has pear, mallow & organic aloe vera to clean and moisturise your baby's delicate hair and sensitive skin".

The issue was whether claims that the product was "organic" were misleading, because they implied it met an independent organic standard.

Definition confusion

In its defence Boots reiterated that there was no legal definition of what constituted "organic" with reference to cosmetics and stated that "Little Me Organics Oh So Gentle Hair and Body Wash" was the brand name of the product and "Little Me" was a registered trademark.

​[We believe] that a reasonable consumer would understand that the product contained some organic ingredients, namely pear, mallow and aloe vera, as stated in the product description and on the product label,” ​said the company response.

Boots also provided organic certification for the organic ingredients in the product from four independent bodies: The Soil Association, US. Mayacert, Quality Certification Services and Eco Cert.

The beauty retailer also supplied information regarding the percentage breakdown of the organic ingredients in the product which totalled less than 5 per cent.

Not enough

The Advertising Standards Authority took this into consideration in making its decision and due to the low proportion of organic ingredients in the total product, made its decision.

“We considered that consumers would understand the claim "Little Me Organics" to mean the product met an independently defined organic standard or used a high proportion of organic ingredients,”​ said an ASA statement.

“Because the product used a low proportion of the organic ingredients and we understood that there was no UK standard for organic cosmetics, we concluded that the ad was misleading.”

As such the ad has been banned and Boots are prohibited from future communications of the product unless they included a prominent statement disclaiming the implied "organic" claim.

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