A company spokesman told BeverageDaily.com that the company had taken lessons regarding the UK advertising code from the ASA sanction regarding its catalogue of health claims for an Alkalized water product.
Balance’s marketing leaflet, distributed within the UK in April 2011, drew a single complaint to the ASA, and was headed “Is it REALLY better than H2O? Why don’t you decide?”
Claims within included: “Proper health starts with the correct acid-alkaline balance in your body. Alkaline balanced hydration is an essential component to maintaining your body in comfort, performance and safety.”
Supposed ‘benefits’ for Alkalized water listed inside included: Balanced body pH, strong immune system, mental clarity, increased energy levels and improved capacity for athletic exercise.
Balance claimed that the product restored cell function, increased fat burning, prevented diseases and helped neutralise and flush out toxins and acid wastes from the body.
“[It also] helps the body assimilate water better and hydrate quicker due to the smaller cluster size of water molecules.”
Similar claims were made on Balance Water’s website (the subject of two complaints) which the spokesman said has now been removed pending consultation with the ASA as to what content can be included.
“Before we put it back up we’re going to speak to the ASA and Trading Standards, to make sure there isn’t any conflict of interest,” he said.
On the site ‘acidosis’, an incorrect acid/alkaline balance within the body, was also linked to serious diseases such as osteoporosis, mental health problems, liver disease, kidney failure, Type 2 diabetes, even boils and a low sex drive.
This led the ASA to conclude that this text breached the code, since these were conditions “for which medical supervision should be sought, and that the claims could discourage patients from seeking essential treatment for those conditions".
Smaller cluster size
Further web information claimed that the “smaller cluster size” of Alakalized water molecules (6-8 as opposed to 14-16 in ‘regular’ water) made the Balance product 8 times more absorbtive.
A higher pH (typically between 8-10) also meant a higher concentration of alkaline minerals “such as potassium calcium and magnesium”, the company claimed.
Asked whether Balance stood by its clutch of health claims, the spokesman said: “Not by all of it. Some of the points could have been put in a less controversial way, so we agree that the terminology could have been a bit more accurate. So we’ve learnt our lesson from that, in terms of the guidelines.
“I’m not saying we were wrong or right, we’re learning from it.”
However, Balance took issue with the ASA’s ruling that it was “concerned by Balance Water’s lack of of response and apparent disregard for the [advertising standards] Code, which was a breach of CAP Code rule 1.7 (unreasonable delay)".
The spokesman said: “We are a small company – we weren’t given time to make the points we made in our brochure and on the website. We were given a small window of time and it wasn’t sufficient for us to respond. They [the ASA] weren’t willing to give an extension on that.”
“It wasn’t because the claims couldn’t be substantiated because there is a lot of information on the internet about alkalized water and its benefits.”