Watchdog backs Rice Krispies adASA rejects Which? complaint

01 November 2006

A complaint from Which? that a Kellogg’s Rice Krispies TV advert was exaggerating the cereal's healthiness has been rejected by the advertising watchdog.

The advert, which shows a sack of rice next to a box of the cereal, tells viewers that ‘there's nothing simpler than the single grain of rice we use to make each Rice Krispie’.

We complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that the TV ad misled viewers because the cereal contains a lot of salt and sugar, as defined by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The ASA argued that once milk was added, the level of salt dropped to 0.41g per 100g, a level considered moderate by the FSA. It said the level of sugar would also drop once milk was added.

Rice Krispies ingredients

Kellogg’s argued that the FSA criteria were wrong as they were based on 100g portions when the average cereal consumption was no more than 40g per day.

The ASA also rejected complaints that the advert implied that rice was the sole ingredient in Kellogg’s Rice Krispies.

It said the advert suggested rice was the primary ingredient and that viewers were unlikely to believe it was the only one.

Weakness

Which? Chief Policy Adviser Sue Davies said: ‘This highlights the fundamental weaknesses in the way that television adverts for food are currently regulated and the need for much tighter controls.

‘Which? remains convinced that this advert was misleading and is disappointed that the ASA has failed to consider this from the consumer's rather than the company's perspective. 

‘Here we had a clear example of a product that was high in salt according to Food Standards Agency criteria, yet the ASA appears to have developed a different way of assessing the product based on a company's own advice.’

Kids' food campaign

In July, Which? published a report highlighting the need for manufacturers to try to reduce the sugar, salt and fat in many of their cereals, particularly those targeted at children. We also called for more responsible marketing and labelling.