A television advertisement claiming that chopping boards hold 50 times more bacteria than toilet seats has been banned.
Announcing its adjudication today, the Advertising Standards Authority said that Reckitt Benckiser’s ad for Dettol Surface Cleanser “misleadingly exaggerated the dangers posed by the bacteria on chopping boards”.
The ad showed pieces of fruit and a knife on a toilet seat and was accompanied by a voice-over saying: “Fact: your chopping board harbours 50 times more bacteria than your toilet seat. But Dettol Surface Cleanser kills 99.9% of bacteria, including MRSA, E Coli, salmonella and even the flu virus.”
However, three viewers complained about the ad and challenged the truth of the “50 times more bacteria” claim.
Reckitt Benckiser said the statement had been based on the findings of an independent study in 2004. RB said they recognized that levels of bacteria on kitchen and toilet surfaces would vary according to individual homes’ hygiene practices, but a body of evidence supported the fact that harmful bacteria could be found in food preparation areas in particular.
They said that chopping boards could be contaminated with micro-organisms that could survive for four hours.
However, the ASA criticized the 2004 study for being carried out on only five households, and was “not convinced that the hygiene conditions of the houses were representative of those in most households”.
It also said it was common knowledge that raw meat could contaminate a surface with bacteria and that it would need to be cleaned before being used again. The authority also thought the ad implied that MRSA, E Coli, salmonella and flu would be present on most chopping boards after cleaning.
The ASA concluded that RB had failed to show that bacteria that posed a health risk had been found on most chopping boards after they had been cleaned normally.
The ad cannot now be broadcast again in its original format.