` U.K. Watchdog Okays Unilever's 'Less Saturated Fat than Olive Oil' Claim


U.K. Watchdog Okays Unilever's 'Less Saturated Fat than Olive Oil' Claim

Aug. 21, 2012
By Julie Butler

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Ads claim­ing Unilever’s Flora Cui­sine cook­ing oil pro­vides 45 per­cent less sat­u­rated fat than olive oil” can stay on the air after United King­dom adver­tis­ing watch­dog find­ings they are unlikely to mis­lead view­ers.

The prod­uct — a blend of sun­flower, lin­seed and rape­seed oils — is pro­moted as heart healthy for fry­ing, roast­ing and bak­ing.

The ads fea­ture Eng­lish TV pre­sen­ter Ver­non Kay and show his mother Gladys pour­ing the oil into a fry­ing pan. He says What’s that?” and she replies, Flora Cui­sine, 45 per­cent less sat­u­rated fat than olive oil.”

In a deci­sion pub­lished on August 15, the Adver­tis­ing Stan­dards Author­ity (ASA) said a viewer had chal­lenged whether the sat­u­rated fat claim was mis­lead­ing and the com­par­i­son flawed

But the ASA dis­missed the com­plaint because we con­sid­ered that con­sumers would replace the amount of olive oil they ordi­nar­ily used with the same amount of Flora Cui­sine and because the end result would be that switch­ing from olive oil to Flora Cui­sine would still reduce the sat­u­rated fat con­tent by 45 per­cent over­all.”

In a sep­a­rate adju­di­ca­tion pub­lished on August 8, the ASA addressed the con­cerns of six com­plainants over the same lower sat­u­rated fat claim and the mother telling her son I’m look­ing after your lit­tle ticker”.


The com­plainants felt these claims incor­rectly implied that Flora Cui­sine had health ben­e­fits for the heart that olive oil did not and were there­fore mis­lead­ing and unable to be sub­stan­ti­ated.

But their case was not upheld by the ASA for rea­sons includ­ing that Flora Cuisine’s Omega 3 fatty acid con­tent and role in reduc­ing sat­u­rated fat intake con­tributed to the nor­mal func­tion­ing of the heart.”

In its find­ing, the ASA included infor­ma­tion from Unilever’s response includ­ing what the com­pany said was an exten­sive study of the sat­u­rated fat con­tent in a wide range of olive oil prod­ucts in the UK.

They pro­vided doc­u­men­ta­tion which showed that the low­est sat­u­rated fat con­tent of any competitor’s olive oil prod­uct sur­veyed con­tained 13g of sat­u­rated fat per 100ml, com­pared to Flora Cui­sine which con­tained 7g per 100ml.”

The ASA also noted in its find­ing that under Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Reg­u­la­tion (EU) No 432/2012, non-spe­cific health claims — such as the ad’s I’m look­ing after your lit­tle ticker” — must be accom­pa­nied by an autho­rised spe­cific claim as of Decem­ber 14.

The ads have sparked con­sumer debate on the mer­its of the dif­fer­ent oils with ques­tions and com­ments in forums and blogs includ­ing over at the food lover’s diary” where it’s stressed that among the fac­tors in olive oil’s favor are its antiox­i­dants, such as hydrox­y­ty­rosol, and higher pro­por­tion of monoun­sat­u­rated fat.

Mean­while, the orga­ni­za­tion that advises the EC on food health claims, the Euro­pean Food Safety Author­ity (EFSA), recently reassessed its ear­lier find­ing that evi­dence put to it was insuf­fi­cient to estab­lish a cause and effect rela­tion­ship between the con­sump­tion of olive oil polyphe­nols (stan­dard­ised by the con­tent of hydrox­y­ty­rosol and its deriv­a­tives) and main­te­nance of nor­mal blood HDL cho­les­terol con­cen­tra­tions.

In an opin­ion pub­lished on August 7, EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Prod­ucts, Nutri­tion and Aller­gies said no data were sub­mit­ted which would require a recon­sid­er­a­tion.”

In the frame­work of fur­ther assess­ment nine human inter­ven­tion and four ani­mal stud­ies were pro­vided. The Panel notes that none of these stud­ies allowed con­clu­sions to be drawn for the sci­en­tific sub­stan­ti­a­tion of the claim owing to the fact that the con­tent of hydrox­y­ty­rosol or its deriv­a­tives (e.g. oleu­ropein com­plex) in the olive oils admin­is­tered in the stud­ies was not reported, that stud­ies showed major method­olog­i­cal lim­i­ta­tions, and that results from rat stud­ies could not be extrap­o­lated to humans because of dif­fer­ences in lipid metab­o­lism between these two species.”

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