The Advertising Standards Authority has slapped down an organic milk company for making unfavourable comparisons between organic and conventional dairy production – without having the necessary evidence to back them up.

Ten claims about milk production made on the website of HaLove – a small Kosher organic milk supplier that promises “cruelty-free milk” – were challenged by an anonymous complainant.

These included the assertion HaLove’s organic milk “is healthier than standard milk” and “being certified organic by the Organic Farmers and Growers Association means that there are no nasty pesticides, antibiotics, genetically modified grains or milk-production female hormones fed to the cows”. Other statements referred to mastitis, udder size and the killing or abortion of male calves at birth.

HaLove defended the statements as “common-sense assertions about the moral, ethical and health benefits of organic milk compared to the appalling treatment of animals in factory farming”, and said quotes and links to third-party websites supported these claims.

However, the ASA disagreed, finding in favour of the complainant on all 10 counts. In particular, it said HaLove’s statements about its milk made implied claims about conventional milk production that could not be substantiated. For example, by saying “our cows are not given hormonal drugs to produce more milk”, HaLove suggested this was common practice in the conventional dairy sector – despite the practice being banned in the European Union, the ASA said. 

HaLove has been told to stop using these claims, with the ASA concluding: “We told HaLove to hold adequate substantiation for their claims and not to imply that milk-producing hormones were routinely used in non-organic dairy farming when that was not the case.

“We told them not to imply that pesticides could be found in non-organic milk unless they held evidence to substantiate the claim. We also told them not to imply that using antibiotics only when necessary was unique to organic dairy farming, when that was not the case.

“We further told them not to imply that non-organically farmed cows were routinely aborted or killed at birth, and not to make claims that non-organically farmed cows suffer from oversized udders.”