Customer roasts Cup-a-Soup over lamb claim
A packet soup contained mutton dressed up as lamb‚ an angry customer complained to the ad watchdog.
But the Advertising Standards Authority disagreed with Mr RH Wroe-Street of Cape Town‚ saying: “While [we] understand that 0.01% lamb extract may be a very low amount in the eyes of the consumer‚ the product does contain lamb‚ and contrary to the complaint‚ the ingredients do indicate this.”
Wroe-Street‚ of Rondebosch‚ complained about the packaging of Knorr Cup-a-Soup‚ which included the words: “Improved recipe! Lamb & Vegetable.” He said the picture on the pack “clearly depicts a mug of soup and alongside are pieces of mutton and a carrot”.
Knorr‚ which is owned by Unilever‚ told the watchdog the ingredient list on the back of the pack specified “lamb extract”. This indicated the inclusion of real lamb in the product‚ a powder which is reconstituted by adding boiling water.
“By virtue of the nature of the product and its intended use‚ the real lamb contained in the product is vacuum dried and ground down to a fine texture in order that it may be packaged into the desired ‘dry’ format‚” Knorr told the ASA.
It argued that regulations for ingredient lists do not specify the minimum percentage or quantity of an ingredient that needs to be present in order to refer to the ingredient in the product's name.
The ASA directorate said its only mandate was to apply the code of advertising practice‚ not labelling regulations. “The real question before the directorate is therefore not whether the packaging is in line with the regulations or in line with what the respondent’s competitors are doing‚ but whether the packaging is misleading.”
It added that the nature of the powdered soup meant a reasonable consumer would not expect to find lumps of meat such as those shown on the picture on the packet.
“The directorate also considered the fact that the lamb content is enough to prevent the product being vegetarian‚ and it would therefore be nonsensical to rule that it is too minimal to warrant the variant descriptor‚” it said.