Concluding that advertisements for Nutella® hazelnut spread were “unlikely to encourage poor nutritional habits or an unhealthy lifestyle in children,” the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has reportedly rejected 31 complaints challenging the promotional messages as misleading. The ads, which show people preparing toast with the spread for breakfast, included a voiceover calling attention to the hazelnut, skimmed milk and cocoa content and stating, “Nutella releases its energy slowly. Wake up to Nutella”; they apparently aired between November 2010 and February 2011 on TV and video on demand (VOD) services.

The consumer watchdog Which? reportedly called the ruling a “huge disappointment,” stating, “[I]t is completely unacceptable to position a product packed with fat and sugar as a suitable breakfast for children, and only to refer to the healthier ingredients it contains. With child obesity rates at a record high, food companies must promote their products more responsibly, and the regulator must get tough on adverts to ensure consumers aren’t given the impression that products are healthier than they really are.”

A company spokesperson apparently expressed satisfaction with the ruling, saying, “[W]e believe that Nutella, as a hazelnut spread, can be eaten as part of a good breakfast and our latest advertisement was carefully developed with this in mind.” In its response to ASA, Ferrero UK indicated that it had restricted the content and scheduling of the advertisements because of the product’s status as an HFSS (high in fat, salt, sugar) product. The company did not apparently realize that it was unable to fully control VOD scheduling and did not know until it saw the complaints that its ads were shown, against company policies relating to health, obesity and child hyperactivity, at about the time “Jamie’s American Food Revolution” aired. Ferrero will not, accordingly, advertise Nutella® in the future via VOD services. See FoodManufacture., June 29, 2011.