March 28, 2007
GlaxoSmithKline fined for misleading soft drink ads
GlaxoSmithKline has been fined $156,000 for misleading advertising after two New Zealand high school science students found the company’s black currant soft drink Ribena contained no detectable vitamin C, the Associated Press reported.
The company admitted to 15 charges of misleading advertising between 2002 and 2006 in a suit filed by the Commerce Commission, a consumer watchdog, after a 2004 school science project exposed the false claims.
Ribena has long been sold in the UK, Australia and New Zealand as a healthy drink based on advertisements that black currant juice has more vitamin C than orange juice. Its New Zealand ads claimed Ready to Drink Ribena had 7 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 milliliters (0.25 ounce per 3.4 fluid ounces).
In 2004, high school students Anna Devathasan and Jenny Suo, then 14, found the drink contained almost no trace of vitamin C after testing it as part of a science based project.
Auckland District Court Judge Phil Gittos fined GlaxoSmithKline and ordered the company to run corrective advertisements, in addition to a message on its Web site.