Ribena fined over misleading advertising

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The makers of blackcurrant-flavoured drink Ribena, GlaxoSmithKline, are in a New Zealand court today after it was discovered that the company's 55-year advertising campaign is misleading to consumers. Ribena had promoted the drink as being rich in vitamin C, with four times as much as oranges, and claimed the "Ready to Drink" Ribena had 7mg of vitamin C per 100ml. Tests have shown that "Ready to Drink" Ribena does not have any detectable vitamin C content.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), an international leading healthcare company second only to Pfizer, pleaded guilty to all 15 charges laid against them by New Zealand's Commerce Commission in Auckland's District Court. GSK did, however, fight the expected fine of up to $350,000 and corrective advertisements, proposing instead a $60,000 fine with no corrective advertisements. In the end, they were fined $217,000 for their breaches of New Zealand's fair trading act, and will have to publish correcting advertisements.

It was first revealed that Ribena did not contain any traces of vitamin C when two 14-year-old Pakuranga College students did tests. At first Anna Devathasan and Jenny Suo thought they had conducted their tests incorrectly, so they tried again, but the same result came up. They contacted the firm three times, and approached the Commerce Commission after receiving no response.

Ms Devathasan said, "We did the study for a bit of fun."

A study in January 2007 also revealed that the drink contains only 5% actual blackcurrant juice.

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