Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Ribena Exposed - Contains No Vitamin C & Sued $217,000

It is a household name which has become one of the world's best-known fruit drinks and is enjoyed by children in 22 countries across the globe.

But it took only two school pupils to tackle the might of the makers of Ribena in a court case which ended in the company being fined almost £80,000 for misleading advertising.

The case came to court in New Zealand after students Anna Devathasan and Jenny Suo challenged claims over levels of vitamin C in the blackcurrant drink.

Ribena is sold as a healthy drink by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), with advertisements stating that it has more vitamin C than orange juice.

But when the then 14-year-old classmates tested the syrup-based drink as part of a science project in 2004, they discovered that it contained almost no trace of vitamin C.

A lawsuit was filed by the Commerce Commission, the national consumer watchdog, and yesterday GSK admitted 15 charges of misleading advertising between 2002 and 2006.

The company was fined 217,000 New Zealand dollars (£80,000) and was ordered to run corrective adverts and post a message on its website.

Ms Devathasan, who was with Ms Suo in court, said the pair felt "quite proud".

She added: "If we hadn't done that science test three years ago, Ribena could have been promoted as vitamin C full for ever. We're just blown away that anything we could have started as a consumer could have blown up into something so huge."

Adverts in New Zealand claimed that Ready to Drink Ribena had 7mg of the vitamin per 100ml. The high school students found that the drink had almost no trace of vitamin C.

The Commerce Commission said that the company's behaviour was a massive breach of trust with the public.

GSK told the court that it had not deliberately set out to mislead consumers but that the fault lay with its testing methods.

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dele said...

Check out Ribena's Feedback on the Vitamin C case.

You may have heard recently some Ribena drinks in Australia and New Zealand have been found to contain less Vitamin C than stated on pack. The case came about because the method we had used for testing Australian and New Zealand products was not sensitive enough to measure the natural break down in Vitamin C that occurs over time while this type of product is on shelf.

First things first: we wanted to reassure you this isn’t the case in the UK. Ribena contains the levels of Vitamin C as stated on our packaging and we’re still committed to producing the same quality refreshment that’s been enjoyed in the UK for the last 70 years. During that time we've worked with three generations of blackcurrant growers to create the unique Ribena taste we know our consumers love.

We also wanted to let you know that people who consume Ribena are obviously our number one concern. It was never our intention to mislead consumers in Australia and New Zealand and we're really sorry this has happened. We’ve moved to a new method of testing Vitamin C levels in those countries and we’re also developing a new recipe for our drinks in Australia and New Zealand to ensure Vitamin C levels are maintained over shelf life.

If you have any questions then give us a bell on 0800 096 3666.

The Ribena Consumer Careline Team

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