York firm told to pull adverts claiming product could help 'alleviate depression'

A company based in York has been ordered to pull adverts which suggested its tests could help people with food allergies devise diets which relieve migraines and depression.

Advertising Standards Authority has told York Test Laboratories Ltd "not to state or imply that an elimination diet informed by their testing could help to alleviate symptoms of migraines or depression"
Advertising Standards Authority has told York Test Laboratories Ltd "not to state or imply that an elimination diet informed by their testing could help to alleviate symptoms of migraines or depression"

Complaints were lodged with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after York Test ran a television advert which said food intolerance “may occur” because our bodies react to certain foods by producing IgG antibodies and this reaction “could have something to do” with several health conditions, including migraines.

York Test said it provided expert laboratory testing and analysis which can be used to help people figure out which foods they should avoid in order to reduce their chances of suffering an IgG reaction.

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As well as running the advert in 2018, the company’s website also included several customer testimonials, including one from someone who claimed: "My brain fog and anxiety have disappeared".

After reviewing four complaints and evidence from scientific studies provided by York Test, the ASA ruled: “The ads must not appear again in the formed complained about.

“We told York Test Laboratories Ltd not to state or imply that an elimination diet informed by their testing could help to alleviate symptoms of migraines or depression. “

It added: “We also told them to ensure that in future they did not imply that the YorkTest IgG test, whether alone or in combination with further tests and an elimination diet, could diagnose specific food intolerances.”

Richard Dawson, chief executive at York Test Laboratories, said the company is in “ongoing dialogue” with the ASA about the ruling.

He added: “Although we have already implemented most of the recommended actions, we reject the ASA’s interpretation of the available science regarding IgG food intolerance testing.

“We are a transparent brand, with an abundance of scientific evidence that supports IgG testing, which we have shared with the ASA and are also happy to share publicly.

“We have expressed our concerns to the ASA about the potential commercial conflict of interest of the industry advisors engaged by the ASA.

“Over the last 39 years we have helped tens of thousands of customers identify their food intolerances and change their lives for the better.

“In a recent survey, 82 per cent of our customers said that taking our test, in conjunction with our nutritional therapist consultation, had a positive impact on their overall health and wellbeing.

“We also have a TrustPilot rating of ‘Excellent’ from over 1,200 customer reviews, with many openly discussing relief from a wide variety of symptoms after taking our test, identifying food intolerances and following a recommended elimination diet.”