The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint against claims made about a flea and tick prevention product.
The website, www.petprotector.org, seen in October 2016, stated “Pet Protector Flea tag and tick prevention-protection for pets … With the help of a new scientific innovation, you’ll be able to forget about fleas and ticks forever.”
A check list further stated “Repels fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and all other external parasites, including Australian paralysis tick. … Lasts up to 4 years … Effective on dogs, cats and horses of any age (even new-borns), any weight, including ill, convalescent and pregnant pets … Produces Scalar waves and creates an impenetrable, protective shield around the animal’s body … Officially tested and proven with 96.67% efficiency rate”.
One complainant challenged whether the following claims were misleading and could be substantiated, that the product:
• Could repel external parasites by producing Scalar waves and creating a shield around the animal’s body;
• Was effective on ‘dogs, cats and horses of any age (even new-borns), any weight, including ill, convalescent and pregnant pets’; and
• Was ‘officially tested and proven with 96.67% efficiency rate’ and that its effect ‘Lasts up to 4 years’.
In its response, Goldstar, trading as petprotector.org, stated that it had conducted its own trials and had concluded that its Pet Protector Disc was efficient in repelling ticks, fleas and mosquitoes. The relevant documentation was available on its website.
The ASA upheld the complaint and said the claims must not appear in the current form. It also told petprotector.org not to make efficacy claims for the Pet Protector Disc without sufficient evidence to support the claims.
The ASA said that the claim ‘the product could repel external parasites by producing Scalar waves and creating a shield around the animal's body’ would be understood to mean that the product provided highly effective or total protection against external parasites.
It said in its ruling: “We further considered that the use of terminology like ‘Scalar waves’ and ‘shield’ to describe the basis of the efficacy was likely to reinforce consumer trust in the effectiveness of the product's ability to repel external parasites.
“We considered the evidence provided. We understood that, prior to testing, all animals were quarantined and all existing parasites and their larvae were eliminated. The Pet Protector Disc was then attached to a collar around each animal’s neck or legs and the test subjects remained in an isolated area, free from external contaminants, for 15 days. The animals were then re-released into their natural environment and their owners were advised not to change their walking or feeding routines. They were observed weekly. The tests were carried out in Patagonia (Argentina), California, Andalusia and New South Wales, over a period of four years. The tests included different breeds of dog, horse and cat, and two, four or six animals in each breed were tested in each location.
“We were concerned that the tests were carried out on a small sample of animals only. It was also not clear whether a control group had also been monitored, to compare the existence of external pests on animals in the same environment that were not wearing the disc. We were also concerned that none of the tests had taken place in the UK, which was where the product was being marketed, and noted there was limited detail about the environments/climates monitored.
“In addition, there was no further detail about other elements of the testing process; for example, how the initial quarantine was ensured, which types of parasite were found, or how consistency between the tests in each location was assured. We considered that, in the absence of further details, we could not be assured of the robustness of the testing data.
“For the reasons above, we considered that the evidence provided was not sufficiently robust to support any efficacy claims and concluded that the claims that the product could repel external parasites by producing Scalar waves and creating a shield around the animal's body were misleading.”
The ASA said that the claim that the product was ‘effective on dogs, cats and horses of any age (even new-borns), any weight, including ill, convalescent and pregnant pets’ would be understood to mean that the disc had been shown to repel all external parasites on all breeds of the listed animals, regardless of their health or age.
It said: “We therefore expected to see evidence which showed that those variables had been tested for. We noted, however, that the evidence did not specify the animals’ ages, weights, general health and whether or not they were pregnant, nor did it specify which parasites were found on the animals.
“We considered that the evidence was not sufficient to support claims that the product was "effective on dogs, cats and horses of any age (even new-borns), any weight, including ill, convalescent and pregnant pets" and concluded the claim was misleading.”
Finally, the ASA looked at the claim that the product ‘lasts up to 4 years’ and was ‘officially tested and proven with 96.67% efficiency rate’, and ruled that these too were misleading.