Pukka Herbs has been prohibited by the UK Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) from advertising one of its tea products as ‘detox’ on the basis it breaches EU regulations on health claims.

Two complaints were made to the ASA about whether Pukka’s detox tea complied with EU regulation EC No 1924/2006 that considers nutrition and health claims for food.

Pukka responded to these complaints by saying it had been selling Detox tea since 2004 and as a result of selling and marketing its Detox tea before 2005, relevant authorities including the Trading Standards accepted its right to sell the product under that name until 2022 as per Article 28(2) of the transitional measures of the EU regulation.

The ASA decided to uphold the complaints against Pukka’s Detox tea. It did not accept that Pukka had registered the terms ‘detox’ or ‘Pukka detox’ had been registered as a trademark before 1 January 2005 and thus were not covered by the exemption in Article 28(2).

The organisation said that Pukka had only shown it had used the name in a descriptive manner, rather than as a distinctive word, before 2005 and it ruled that there was insufficient evidence of good in the mind of the purchasing public by association with the name before January 2005.

Since Pukka’s use of the name detox was not exempt under Article 28(2) the company was required under Article 1(3) of EU regulation 1924/2006 to accompany the trademark with a permitted nutrition or authorised health claim in advertising.

The ASA said: “We considered the ad was not covered by the exemption under Article 28(2) of the regulation and as such “Detox” was required to be accompanied by a permitted health or nutrition claim.

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“Because it was not, we concluded that the claim breached the Code.”

“We told Pukka Herbs not to make references to general benefits of food for overall good health or health-related wellbeing in brand names unless those claims were accompanied by a permitted health or nutrition claim.”

Euan MacLennan, Pukka Herbal Director, said: “We respect the ASA’s decision and, indeed, EU regulations relating to health and nutritional claims. This ruling from the ASA contradicts previous rulings from Trading Standards and relates only to advertising. Pukka Detox tea will continue sell in the UK as it has been permitted by Trading Standards until 2022.

“At Pukka, we support a sensible and proportionate approach to health. This includes any person’s choice to ‘detox’ or ‘cleanse’ their bodies.”

Pukka detox tea is made from aniseed, fennel and cardamom and is no longer listed among Pukka’s range on its website as a result of the ASA’s ban.