ASA cracks down on misleading organic claims

Challenge issued by Herb UK against Simply Organic upheld

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint made against a magazine ad for hair care brand Simply Organic, headlined “Naturally Organic… Simply!” and featuring text stating: “The award winning Simply Organic range now available in professional salons.” The challenge, submitted by rival hair care brand Herb UK, took issue with the “Simply Organic” and “Naturally Organic” claims, which Herb UK felt were misleading as they implied the brand’s products met an independent organic standard.

Although Simply Organic provided registration documents for the company in the US and the EU as well as documentation of certification from some US-based agencies, the ASA upheld Herb UK’s complaint, believing that readers would understand the claims to mean the Simply Organic product range met an independent organic standard, despite there being no specific UK standard for organic hair care products. The agency also noted that the US organic certification provided by Simply Organic covered certain ingredients but that no documentation was provided showing the full list of ingredients used in the products, nor whether the ingredients used were certified organic.

In addition, the USDA organic stamp provided by the advertiser for its Certified Organic Extra Blend was found to have expired in 2007, while a certified organic letter of guarantee from Oregon Tilth lacked clear information about the status of the Simply Organic product contained in the ad. With this in mind, the ASA considered the status of the advertised products range to be unclear.

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