Published: 01 January 2021  (Updated: 15 February 2021)

Claims Focus - ASA Ruling on Microbiome Claims

On 13 January 2021, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) issued and upheld a ruling against microbiome claims.

The verdict of the ruling is not related to the borderline context of the microbiome claims.  The outcome of the ruling is related to the lack of robust claim substantiation for this type of claims, according to the ASA expectations.  Members are reminded that all cosmetic claims must be substantiated, according to Article 20 of the EU Cosmetics Regulation and the Common Criteria Regulation.  However, while breakthrough and innovative claims are more likely to have a very high level of substantiation in place, it can also be harder to establish precedent.  Below are some key points to take out of the ASA assessment of this ruling.

  • In-vitro tests may not be directly applicable to real life conditions, and it is therefore worth investigating certain benefits with in-vivo clinical trial or user tests, to make the substantiation relevant to the real use of the product.
  • Substantiation must be generated on the finished product marketed to the consumer, and not on a single ingredient contained within the product.  This is because the ingredient may have a reduced or different effect when applied as part of a formulation.
  • Substantiation must be generated on the relevant targeted consumer.
  • Substantiation must be relevant for the claims made.



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