The Independent Complaints Panel has upheld two complaints against CollaGin – a UK gin distilled with pure collagen – for packaging that ‘suggested the product had therapeutic qualities or could help with the consumer’s appearance in some way’. The Portman Group – a group which is funded by 10 industry member companies and promotes responsible alcohol standards – has issued a retailer alert bulletin for the product, asking licensees ‘not to place orders for stocks of CollaGin with the existing packaging…after October 29’.
However, the two entrepreneurs behind the brand have hit back, saying the bottles the complaint concerns are no longer available and they have worked hard to ensure the product comes within the Portman Group’s rules. ‘The Elixir of Youth’, ‘Skin & Tonic’ The complainants, both members of the public, believe the use of phrases such as ‘the elixir of youth’ and ‘anti-aging botanicals’ as well as accompanying marketing slogans on its website and social media, such as ‘skin and tonic’, associated the product with therapeutic effects such as skincare, beauty and anti-aging, thus breaching the Portman Group Code.
The panel agreed the packaging suggested the product had therapeutic qualities or could help with the consumer’s appearance in some way, upholding the complaints. Secretary to the Independent Complaints Panel, Kay Perry said: ‘‘Alcohol cannot be marketed on the basis of any health claims and producers must be particularly careful not to create a link between alcohol products and any therapeutic claims such as anti-ageing properties or rejuvenating effects.” Defending the wording, Young In Spirit, the company behind CollaGin, stated that ‘Skin & Tonic’ was not a health claim and did not imply a beauty claim. It also stated ‘The Elixir of Youth’ was not a health claim or a ‘real’ thing.
The Portman Group has instructed supermarkets, off-licenses, convenience stores and other retailers to not place orders for CollaGin, ‘in its current packaging’, after October 29, 2017, while acknowledging Young in Spirit has been in contact ‘for guidance on appropriate changes to the product and packaging’. However, Young in Spirit says it has been working with the Portman Group for over a year to ensure it is within the boundaries, and no longer produces the packaging in question. In a statement on the website, the company says: “We have stopped producing the bottles they complained about, yet this vital piece of information has not been mentioned in any communication from them. The language in question on the labels is no longer being used and can’t be bought from anywhere. “We have changed our labels, website and social media profiles and press releases. They [The Portman Group] forgot to mention that we had to destroy thousands of labels costing us a lot of money, to ensure we had removed the language that Portman thought made ‘therapeutic’ claims. “Our labels, that are the main point of the argument, are no longer in production: but we still have seen press stating ‘Retailers warned not to stock CollaGin’ like we’re some sort of illicit must-have.”