Pukka Herbs had been using the sub-brand "Detox" for a particular variety of its tea since 2004 and had previously persuaded Trading Standards that this use was OK. So it must have come as a shock to be told by the ASA yesterday that their use of the "Pukka Detox tea" branding on their website amounted to a breach of the CAP Code.
The normal rule is that general health or nutrition claims in ads - such as that a product has "detox" properties - must be supported by an accompanying claim that has been specifically approved under the relevant EU Regulation. This applies to their use in brand names too, but Pukka's website had no accompanying approved health claim.
Pukka had been relying instead upon a special exception that applies to health claims made in trade-marked brand names that were already in use before 1st January 2005. Pukka launched their Detox branded tea in 2004, so thought they could take advantage of this exception.
But they hadn't registered the brand as a trade mark, and the ASA felt that "detox" was too descriptive a word for them to have built up goodwill in the minds of the purchasing public. So they couldn't claim to have an unregistered trade mark (protected in "passing off") either.
The CAP Code does not cover packaging, so Pukka will not necessarily have to change the branding on its packets. But it will have to be careful to detoxify its claims on its website and in other ads...
We told Pukka Herbs Ltd not to make references to general benefits of food for overall good health or health-related well-being in brand names unless those claims were accompanied by a permitted health or nutrition claim.