12 July 2000

SmithKline Beecham, manufacturer of the Ribena ToothKind brand, has been given leave to apply for a judicial High Court review of an advertising ban imposed on the brand by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Following a two-year probe by the ASA, SKB was barred from claiming that the children’s drink did not encourage tooth decay. The advertising watchdog was also critical of a poster showing bottles of the product in place of bristles on a toothbrush.

Despite backing from the British Dental Association, the ASA ruled the advertising claim “misleading” on the grounds that it was simply less harmful than other sugary drinks, rather than not harmful at all. The BDA, however, accuses the ASA of not taking advice from the UK's leading experts.

The ASA inquiry was instigated after complaints from consumer groups such as Action and Information on Sugar and consumer magazine Which? The latter called on the BDA to withdraw its support for the drink, having analysed the product and found it contained high levels of sugar, albeit less than some other drinks targeting children.

But, according to the BDA, the presence of additional calcium in this type of Ribena has a protective effect not taken into account by the ASA. SmithKlein Beecham insists that its drink does not encourage tooth decay - and says it has 1,200 pages of scientific data to substantiate this.

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)