Zantac Lawsuit

Citizens Commission on Human Rights Award Recipient (Twice)
Humanist, humorist

Monday, February 08, 2010

Foodles - "Because Instant Food Is Healthy"

"Just add water, bring to boil and simmer."

A phrase that usually means the food you are about to eat is cheap, tasteless and not very healthy. At least that was until those magnificent people at Glaxo used spin and marketed a instant meal as healthy.

Foodles is the new baby from Glaxo, the brand name is endorsed by another Glaxo product, Horlicks. Quite why a bedtime drink can endorse a 'snack between meals' still baffles me?

Apparently, the healthy part of the Foodles brand isn't in the noodles, it's in the sachet that accompanies the pack. A sachet that contains 5 essential vitamins.

The makers of Horlicks [GlaxoSmithKline] landed themselves in hot water [excuse the pun] back in 2008 when an advertisement accidently aired in the UK. The ad was intended for residents of Nepal and used a Bangladeshi voice-over but it slipped through via cable television in the UK.

The 60 second commercial claimed that Horlicks had been tested on pupils at a boarding school. The voice-over claimed, "Children have become taller, stronger and sharper. The Horlicks challenge - now proven. See for yourself."

Of course, people in the UK would not buy into such an outlandish claim but apparently, it doesn't make UK children become "taller, stronger and sharper." However, it does make children living in Nepal taller, stronger and sharper - well it does according to a Glaxo spokesperson anyhow.

GlaxoSmithKline, maker of Horlicks, said the version of the product sold in Bangladesh was fortified and its health claims were supported by clinical studies done by the National Institute of Nutrition in India.

The Advertising Standards Agency [ASA] here in the UK disagree. "The health and nutritional claims made by GSK [and Nestle] may be allowed in other parts of the world, but they breach the strict rules in the UK and we have seen no evidence to substantiate them,"

This isn't the first time Glaxo have been hauled over the coals for advertising products with misleading claims.

In 2004 the Food & Drug Administration [FDA] told Glaxo to pull their advertisement for Paxil [UK name, Seroxat]. The FDA letter stated:

"GSK's advert does not clearly explain the potential side effects of taking Paxil and of coming off the medicine. It also accused the campaign of failing to distinguish between severe social anxiety, for which Paxil can be prescribed, and normal shyness, which should not be treated medically. The FDA wrote: "The TV ad suggests that anyone experiencing anxiety, fear or self-consciousness in social or work situations is an appropriate candidate for Paxil." [1]

Then we had the Ribenagate scandal where two school girls from New Zealand found that Glaxo's "health drink", Ribena, contained almost no trace of vitamin c. This was contrary to the advertisement for Ribena which claimed, "the blackcurrants in Ribena have four times the vitamin C of oranges." Did they mean orange crayons? [2]

Previous to Liebenagate we had the wanton advertising by Glaxo in a popular series of children's books.

Back in 2003, Roger Hargreaves son, Adam, wrote a book entitled 'Mr. Sneeze and His Allergies'. It told how Mr Sneeze starts to sneeze "in the middle of summer". His friend Little Miss Sunshine suggests he may have hayfever.

It continued by telling the reader [Children] that Miss Sunshine discovered that he was allergic to the feathers in his pillow. All good educational stuff one would assume but why tell children about allergies?

Step forward the genius that is GSK.

The story was followed by four pages of information on allergies from Allergy UK and two pages promoting the use Piriteze and Piriton.

Both Piriteze and Piriton are sold by GlaxoSmithKline and according to this source the book was paid for by GlaxoSmithKline.[3]

So what of Foodles, the healthy snack endorsed by a drink that the ASA have seen no evidence to suggest that it really makes children taller, stronger or sharper?

Can we take it on trust that the sachet containing 5 essential vitamins actually does contain 5 essential vitamins?

I'm just waiting for a couple of school girls to analyse the contents of the sachet!



[1] US watchdog gets tough with GSK over marketing of Paxil
[2] Remember GSK's Larry Liebena?
[3] GSK And Mr. Sneeze

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