Dettol criticised over chopping board advertBacteria claims not supported, says ASA

24 October 2007

A Dettol commercial which claimed chopping boards harbour 50 times more bacteria than toilet seats has been criticised by advertising watchdogs.

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) said the advert exaggerated the dangers posed by bacteria on chopping boards and ruled that the commercial should not be shown again.

A voiceover in the Dettol Surface Cleanser television advert said: ‘Fact, your chopping board harbours 50 times more bacteria than your toilet seat.’

Reckitt Benckiser, the firm behind the Dettol brand, submitted evidence for the ‘50 times more’ claim showing the 2004 study was based on just five Hertfordshire households.

Hygiene conditions

The ASA was not convinced the hygiene conditions in the five houses studied were representative of most households. It concluded that the evidence: ‘was not robust enough to support the claim.’

It found the Dettol Surface Cleanser commercial in breach of advertising rules relating to misleading advertising and evidence.

It said the ‘ad misleadingly exaggerated the dangers posed by the bacteria on chopping boards.’

'Exaggerated the dangers'

In a statement, Reckitt Benckiser said it was disappointed with the ASA's decision.

‘Reckitt Benckiser goes to great lengths to ensure that statements made in advertisements are based on fact underpinned by research or other verifiable data,’ the statement said.

‘In this case the comparison was made to highlight the very high levels of bacteria present in household chopping boards which are routinely used for a wide variety of food preparation activities.

‘It is well known that meats such as chicken, for example, can be high in bacteria and that very few households use different boards for every task, but usually will wipe a board down between tasks.’