‘Tis the season for various flavors of hot chocolate to come into the lives of consumers.
Even with many areas experiencing warmer weather than one would expect, Christmas is still associated with a steaming cup of hot chocolate.
One could say that a cup of hot chocolate is a great start to any Christmas day.
The Advertising Standards Authority in the United Kingdom ruled, however, that making such a statement about a sugary drink like hot chocolate was setting a dangerous precedent.
A children health advocate group, The Children’s Food Campaign, got wind of a Nestle Nesquik ad that described their hot chocolate mix-ins with the statement: “For a great start to the day!” Immediately, the health group took their grievances to the Advertising Standards Authority.
The group claimed that Nesquik putting that slogan on their hot chocolate mix-ins could lead people to believe that the chocolate drink was healthy for kids. They said that it also encouraged bad eating habits in children and was irresponsible.
According to the label, Nesquik hot chocolate takes three teaspoons to make a 200ml drink. The amount of sugar in those three teaspoons is over 20g.
The United Kingdom has a Traffic Light rating system for food. The system uses green, amber, and red colors to explain whether the items are low, medium, or high in fat, saturated fat, sugar, and salt. The Traffic Light rating system indicates that drinks fall into the red (or high) category when they have 11.25g of sugar in a 100ml serving. Judging by the system, Nequik’s hot chocolate does fall into the red category.
Nesquik remarked that the majority of the sugar in their chocolate drink came from lactose. They also claimed that in addition to the sugar, their powder added some vitamin C, D, zinc, and iron to the mix.
According to the Telegraph, the Advertising Standards Authority responded to that claim by remarking that although the majority of the sugar came from milk, it didn’t change the fact that the hot chocolate is not a healthy choice for children.
“While we understood that semi-skimmed milk alone contained 9.6g of sugar per 200ml serving, which allowed for an orange traffic light label, we also understood that a 200ml serving of Nesquik hot chocolate contained 20.3g of sugar. Because the product was high in added sugar, we considered that the suggestion that Nesquik was a suitable regular breakfast option for children encouraged poor nutritional habits in children and that the ad therefore should not have appeared at all.”
Nesquik was disappointed with the ruling and tried to explain that their advertisement wasn’t geared toward children anyway. A spokesperson explained their point of view to the BBC.
“The advert for Nesquik Hot Chocolate shown on the label of a family-sized bottle of milk was undoubtedly targeted at adults who were shopping for their family, making it clear that the product should be consumed over a number of days, rather than in excess.”
Still, the Nestle Company accepted the Advertising Standards Authority’s ruling on their hot chocolate and removed the ad from their products sold in the United Kingdom. They also stated that they will look for a way to reduce sugar in their drinks for the future.
“We wholeheartedly believe that ‘For a great start to the day!’ is an appropriate statement. However, we always listen to concerns when they are raised. Therefore, as a responsible manufacturer and to remove any ambiguity in future, we will no longer use the statement in our UK advertisements and are actively looking for solutions to help us reduce sugar.”
Nequik does have a “no sugar added” chocolate drink.
[Photo by Nesquik]