The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has published a ruling against a Coventry business regarding the advertisement of unauthorised health claims for food supplements being sold online.

In November 2022, Dochsa Ltd of 1 Church Mews, Bennetts Road, Coventry, CV7 8HY T/A Dochsa registered with the Council’s Food and Safety team as a food business.

The team, who are also responsible for Food Standards matters, found a number of health claims being made on the company’s website. For example, purchasing specific bundles of supplements as ways to reduce certain symptoms associated with conditions such as ADHD.

The Food and Safety team advised the business of the fact these claims could not be made, and that the matter had been referred to the Advertising Standards Authority for review as to whether advertising rules had been broken.

The Food Business Operator of Dochsa agreed to amend their website to remove these claims, and then shortly after decided to stop selling food supplements.

The Advertising Standards Authority continued to review the original material and have now issued a ruling upholding the Council’s original findings in particular that:

  • Dochsa must not state or imply that their food supplements could prevent, treat or cure human disease.
  • Dochsa must ensure that any specific health claims made are authorised on the GB NHC Register and comply with the conditions of use for those claims.
  • Docsha must not make general health claims unless they are accompanied by a specific authorised health claim.

Dochsa Ltd said that they were a micro-organisation that resold food supplements from a manufacturer, so they did not hold any stock. They explained that the manufacturer created the brand labels for them to use, and that they used their descriptions and certifications when listing them on their website.

Dochsa said that they had been in contact with Coventry City Council regarding the website and had followed their directions as best as they could, including updating and changing product descriptions on their website. However, they said upon being notified of the complaint, that they had removed all food supplements from their website and would not be selling any in future.

The full ruling can be found here: https://www.asa.org.uk/rulings/dochsa-ltd-a22-1177091-dochsa-ltd.html

Councillor Abdul Salam Khan, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Policing and Equalities, said:

“I am pleased to see that the findings of the Food & Safety team have been backed by ASA and that the business took the right action in removing the claims from their website. Officers will always try to work with businesses offering advice and guidance where possible but will also take the necessary actions required to ensure businesses are operating within the confines of the law.”

Davina Blackburn, Strategic Lead for Regulation in the city, said: “We hope this ruling will send a message to other food businesses in Coventry that you need to ensure any health claims made about food or supplements are authorised and not misleading to customers.”

“We would encourage all residents to report any concerns about food businesses in Coventry to ehcommercial@coventry.gov.uk or call 08085834333”.

Published: Friday, 9th June 2023