Pret a Manger adverts which claimed it uses natural ingredients banned for being ‘misleading’

Complaint was made by food charity Sustain in 2016

Caitlin Morrison
Wednesday 18 April 2018 00:41
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The ubiquitous high street chain was warned about its use of the word ‘natural’ in adverts
The ubiquitous high street chain was warned about its use of the word ‘natural’ in adverts

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned two Pret a Manger ads for making “misleading” claims that the sandwich chain uses natural ingredients.

The ASA received complaints about Pret ads seen in December 2016, the first being a description of the firm on Facebook which stated: “Pret opened in London in 1986. College friends Sinclair and Julian made proper sandwiches avoiding the obscure chemicals, additives and preservatives common to so much of the ‘prepared’ and ‘fast’ food on the market.”

The second ad in question was on the company’s website and contained the phrase “Pret creates handmade natural food… doing the right thing… naturally”, along with repeated uses of the words “good natural food”.

Food and farming charity Sustain made the complaints on the basis that claims that Pret’s products were natural implied the chain’s food was free from artificial additives.

According to the ASA, Pret said their ads did not claim, either expressly or implicitly, that they used only natural ingredients or that their food was additive and preservative free. In relation to the claim the company was “doing the right thing… naturally”, Pret said the word “naturally” in that context did not refer to food but instead meant “of course”, or “obviously”.

Complaints were made about Pret’s use of the word ‘natural’ in its advertising

However, the advertising regulator said customers were likely to interpret that claim “to mean both ‘doing the right thing, of course’ as well as a statement about Pret a Manger’s foods being natural”.

The watchdog concluded that because Pret’s ads contained claims its food was “natural” when some products contained artificial additives, the claims were misleading and breached the advertising code.

“We told Pret a Manger to ensure their ads did not claim or imply that their food was ‘natural’, unless their products and ingredients were in line with consumer expectations of the term ‘natural’,” the ASA said.

Another complaint made by Sustain relating to Pret adverts about bread ovens in branches was not upheld by the ASA.

Pret a Manger’s food and coffee director, Clare Clough, said: “Today, the ASA has upheld in part a complaint about our use of the word ‘natural’ in two instances online. We do, of course, take on board the views of the ASA and have already made the requested changes.

“We cherish the relationship we have with our customers. We believe we represent Pret’s food honestly and we always welcome feedback.”

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