News Advertising Complaint Against Dog Food Firm Upheld

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Advertising complaint against dog food firm upheld
10th April 2019

By Sandra Pearce

The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint against a dog food subscription service and ruled that text on its website cannot appear in its current form.

The website for Butternut Box dog food, www.butternutbox.com, seen on June 29, 2018, featured text which stated ‘Fresh, home-cooked meals. Perfectly portioned. Delivered to your door’.

The complainant challenged whether the claim ‘home-cooked meals’ was misleading.

HOME KITCHEN

Dogmates, trading as Butternut Box, said the business originated in a home kitchen where the recipes were developed and it would be possible to recreate these dishes using equipment designed for use in the home.

At the time of the complaint, production was done in a rented kitchen and all meals were run in small batches, with each part of the process being completed by hand. They said the kitchen was specifically designed for small-food businesses to run and scale up their production.

Butternut Box said its dog food could clearly be distinguished from the categories of wet (canned) food and dry food, which were not possible to produce at home. It could also be distinguished from raw dog food as it minced its meats and mixed them with dry ingredients, filled them into a sealed pouch and gently cooked the food.

The owners said they felt ‘home-cooked’ was the most appropriate way to describe their food.

Butternut Box said it proposed to amend its website so that the claim was qualified on the home page and to create a page that provided further information and an explanation on how the food was produced.

UPHELD

The ASA considered that consumers would interpret the term ‘home-cooked’ to mean that Butternut Box’s products were prepared within a residential kitchen.

A spokesman said: “We acknowledged the process followed in the preparation of the food and the fact that each step was completed by hand. We also recognised that they sought to differentiate their product from other types of dog food available on the market.

“However, the product was produced in a rented commercial kitchen and while the processes used could all be replicated in a residential kitchen, the commercial environment in which the food was produced was not one that consumers would readily associate with the claim ‘home-cooked’.

“While we welcomed Butternut Box’s attempts to provide further clarification on the product on their website, we did not consider their proposed amendments sufficient to alter the overall impression that the food was produced in a residential kitchen.”

The ASA ruled the claim ‘home-cooked’ as misleading and that the ad breached rules of Misleading advertising and Exaggeration.