My third ASA adjudication: Groupon’s Live Blood Test claims exaggerated, misleading and unsubstantiated

My blog started in March of this year, when I found out about Live Blood Analysis (and the related Alkaline Diet). It is a practice promoted and taught by ‘Dr’ Robert O Young (subject of my second adjudication), based on the laughable and long-disproven theory of (extreme) pleomorphism (the idea that the body’s own cells transform into bacteria and fungi).

Since March, I have made a series of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority about misleading and unsubstantiated claims made by LBA practitioners. The majority of these have been informally resolved (when the advertisers agreed to remove problematic claims). Unfortunately some practitioners did not agree to remove their claims. According to this letter from the ASA, they aren’t going to pursue all my complaints formally but will instead focus on one or two. The letter also said “if Council goes on to make a formal adjudication, we will in all likelihood follow up with compliance action across the sector”.

I am hopeful that this is such an adjudication.

It relates to a Groupon promotion for Errol Denton’s livebloodtest.com and was originally brought to my attention by a comment on my first blog piece (much of which was about Denton’s advertising). Despite the adjudication, it is still online as I write, and has apparently resulted in 1534 sales (a figure which has intriguingly dropped from 2997 since I first saw it in April). It has also resulted in some very disgruntled customers.

It is not possible to detect food intolerances or allergies by looking at blood cells under a microscope. The idea that this can also help you to lose weight or ‘battle fatigue’ is equally ludicrous and the notion of ‘helping maintain the body’s natural defence mechanism’ makes little sense.

Groupon were of course unable to substantiate any claims relating to allergies or intolerances and as far as the other claims were concerned, they pointed out that Denton would be able to give sensible lifestyle and eating plans following the consultation.

Based on what I already know about his lack of understanding of human biology, the idea of him giving ‘sensible advice’ is laughable. For example, my first ASA adjudication related in part to his claim that chlorophyll is a potent blood deodorizer.

Unsurprisingly, the ASA concluded that Groupon had also failed to provide evidence to substantiate the claims that the results of live blood testing could be used to formulate nutritional advice, ‘assist with weight loss’, ‘help battle fatigue’ or ‘maintain the body’s natural defence mechanism’.

The ad was found to be in breach of the CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.11 (Exaggeration) and 12.1 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).

15 responses to “My third ASA adjudication: Groupon’s Live Blood Test claims exaggerated, misleading and unsubstantiated

  1. Great work Josephine

  2. Pingback: Live Blood Analysis, pleomorphism and the Advertising Standards Authority | Josephine Jones

  3. Pingback: Dear ASA, YOU ROCK! | Josephine Jones

  4. Pingback: Another bloody disgrace from Groupon! | Josephine Jones

  5. This story has also been covered by the 21st Floor as a ‘Skeptic News’ piece: http://www.thetwentyfirstfloor.com/?p=2677

  6. Errol Denton now has a total of FOUR ASA adjudications against his advertising after the latest was published today, regarding some claims for nutritional microscopy which appear on the See My Cells FAQ page (http://seemycells.co.uk/store/index.php?act=viewDoc&docId=11).

    This adjudication can be read in full on the ASA website here: http://www.asa.org.uk/ASA-action/Adjudications/2011/11/Fitalifestyle-Ltd/SHP_ADJ_156679.aspx

    Jo Brodie, the original complainant, wrote about it on her blog here: http://brodiesnotes.blogspot.com/2011/11/errol-denton-fitalifestyle-fourth-asa.html

  7. Pingback: Fitalifestyle continue to make dubious health claims – even after four ASA adjudications | Josephine Jones

  8. Pingback: Groupon caught promoting snake oil | Josephine Jones

  9. Pingback: Radio 4 You & Yours investigate unregulated ‘live’ blood tests | Josephine Jones

  10. Seems as though they’re doing this again…was considering buying until I saw the lady’s lack of qualifications, and then your blog…thanks!
    http://www.groupon.co.uk/deals/london-special/Live-Blood-London/5113090?nlp=&CID=UK_CRM_1_0_0_116&a=1652

  11. Thanks for letting me know about this.

    It’s quite shocking they’re still promoting this considering all the recent controversy (see https://josephinejones.wordpress.com/2011/10/12/another-bloody-disgrace-from-groupon/ and https://josephinejones.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/radio-4-you-yours-investigate-unregulated-live-blood-tests/) and their situation with the OFT (http://www.oft.gov.uk/news-and-updates/press/2012/19-12).

    I think they’re being more vague than they used to be though. In the past, they were claiming to detect allergies and intolerances specifically.

  12. Pingback: The 21st Floor » Blog Archive » Skeptic News: ASA Groupon Victory

  13. Pingback: Who can I complain to about Errol Denton? | Josephine Jones

  14. Pingback: Denton’s dirty tricks campaign | Josephine Jones

  15. Pingback: Live Blood Analysis and the ASA: a catalogue of complaints | Josephine Jones

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