Not so Pukka: Unilever-owned tea brand instructed to stop using 'Detox' in ads

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

UK advertising authorities have instructed Pukka Herbs to stop using the term "Detox" without an approved health or nutrition claim - a decision that affects its popular herbal infusion product.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruling this week relates only to how the product’s advertising with the tea’s current packaging and name remaining unchanged until 2022.

However, any promotion on Pukka’s website or social media channels or in any other form of advertising is to cease immediately.

‘Contradiction of previous rulings’

“We respect the ASA’s decision and, indeed, EU regulations relating to health and nutritional claims,” ​Pukka’s herbal director Euan MacLenna said​.

“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 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 Herbs, which was purchased by Unilever in September last year, sell a range of teas with health-enhancing labels attached to them. These include “Cleanse”, “Lean Green” and, “Detox”.

However, ASA’s issue stems from two complainants’ concerns that stated the term "detox" breached the CAP Code.

Pukka said that the firm had been selling Detox tea since 2004 adding that by selling and marketing Pukka Detox tea prior to 2005 authorities including Trading Standards accepted their right to sell the product under that name until 2022.

Here, Article (2) of Regulation states that, “Products bearing trademarks or brand names existing before 1 January 2005 which do not comply with this Regulation may continue to be marketed until 19 January 2022 after which time the provisions of this Regulation shall apply”.

No registered trademarks

In its ruling, the ASA noted that neither “Detox” nor “Pukka Detox” had been registered as a trade mark before 1 January 2005.

ASA therefore concluded Pukka were not covered by Article 28(2), which provided an exemption from that requirement until 2022, for products “bearing trademarks or brand names existing before 1 January 2005”.

“The claim must not appear again in its current form. We told Pukka Herbs Ltd not to make references to general benefits of food for overall good health or health-related well-being in brand names unless those claims were accompanied by a permitted health or nutrition claim.”

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