Food producer Sanitarium has pulled a TV ad for its gluten-free Weet-Bix product, following a complaint from a medical doctor.
In the official complaint filed with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the doctor takes exception to the suggestion in the ad that gluten-free Weet-Bix could help reduce discomfort caused by bloating.
The ad features a presenter speaking to a woman about why she has opted for a gluten-free diet.
"I felt quite bloated and since I've been eating less gluten I feel a lot lighter and have more energy," the women said in the ad.
Thereafter, the presenter hands her a box of gluten-free Weet-Bix and says "Now you can go back to Weet-Bix for breakfast."
The complainant said the ad was misleading because there were many causes of bloatedness and cutting out gluten would not necessarily help everyone.
"At no point does the dialogue state that this sort of product is really meant for inclusion in a gluten-free diet, as prescribed for those who are diagnosed with an auto-immune disease, for example, coeliac disease which requires antibody testing and only affects a tiny portion of society," the complainant said.
"The implication is that any member of the public who might feel bloated, an extremely
common complaint which can be due to a plethora of reasons, will benefit from this product, making them feel lighter and more energised."
The complainant said that consumers without specialised knowledge could be persuaded to buy the product for "misleading reasons".
Sanitarium was cooperative in its response to the ASA complaint and decided to remove the ad from television for the final week in its schedule, commencing May 13.
The ASA chair noted the complainant's concerns over the potential of the advertisement to mislead customers but also ruled the matter settled on account of Sanitarium's swift decision to pull it from the air.