Two TV ads for Flora Proactiv have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority for breaching EU health claims rules.

The ads featured women talking about how they had managed to lower their cholesterol with the help of Flora Proactiv, and included the claim “no other food lowers cholesterol more”.

Under European Union rules, food manufacturers are allowed to use only certain specific, pre-approved health claims to promote their products. Flora Proactiv contains plant sterols, which have been shown to help lower cholesterol and for which an approved EU health claim exists, but the ASA ruled the assertion they lowered cholesterol more than any other food was against health claim rules.

In addition, the ASA said brand owner Unilever had reworded the approved EU health claim in a way that had altered its meaning. “Because the wording of the authorised health claim used in the ads omitted important information and because the ads contained a comparative claim that was not justified by the claims authorisation or listed as a separate authorised claim, we concluded that the ads breached the [ASA] Code,” it said in its ruling, adding the ads must not be broadcast again.

Unilever said it was disappointed in the ruling, but respected the ASA’s decision. It added it had now changed the wording so as to allow it to continue using the claim “that our product is clinically provn to actively lower cholesterol”.

The new, full wording will now read: “Flora pro.activ contains plant sterols.  Plant sterols have been shown to lower blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease. Consuming 1.5-2.4g of plant sterols per day can lower cholesterol by 7-10% in 2-3 weeks when consumed as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle with sufficient fruit and vegetables.”