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Beauty gum reveals consumer health claim scepticism, Datamonitor

By Helen Glaberson , 23-Jun-2011

Controversy behind a new “beauty” gum product reveals the increasing consumer scepticism over functional health claims, says Datamonitor.

Antula Healthcare’s Vigo chewing gum, which is marketed under three versions, Focus, Active and Beauty, has allegedly received criticism from several experts who say the beauty claims made by the gum are not possible.

“Vigo Beauty” is said to contain B-vitamins and beta carotene that help maintain a healthy skin. The product also contains selenium that is good for hair and nails, according to the Swedish-based company.

Negative reaction

“I can’t see how the ingredients would be able to provide any of the effects they claim. Those substances can’t influence looks or focus in any particular way,” toxicologist Ulla Beckman Sundh at the National Food Administration told Swedish publication Svenska Dagbladet (SvD).

Tom Vierhile, director of Product Launch Analytics at Datamonitor told ConfectioneryNews.com he was slightly surprised about the negative reaction to the gum, adding that the claims and positioning of the product were not all that different from other new functional products on the market.

“Time will tell, but this whole episode could prove to be a high water mark with regard to health claims in products not normally associated with good health,” he said.

“Consumers are sceptical, and the onus has shifted more to manufacturers to prove that products work as advertised.

Response

Swedish consumers are not used to finding vitamins and other active ingredients in a chewing gum product a spokesperson for Antula Healthcare told this publication in response to the criticism.

“Up until today, consumers in Sweden have only found food supplements as traditional tablets, capsules and drinks,” they said.

The spokesperson said the effects of Vigo’s ingredients are well documented and evaluated by EFSA with a “positive outcome”.

According to the company, the effects of Vigo’s ingredients are also “well supported” in scientific research.

Some claims possible

Vierhile said that many beauty from within products talk aboutsupporting beauty.

“But not necessarily suggesting that if you use the product, you’ll end up looking like a supermodel,” he said.

The analyst also said it was possible for a gum to contain ingredients that can be beneficial to the skin: “Datamonitor has reported about various chewing gum products through the years that have contained skin healthy ingredients including collagen, hyaluronic acid, vitamins and more.”

Vierhile said the product’s skin firming claim could potentially be a measurable claim, which would open the door to scrutiny.

“It’s not unheard of for skin care products to make highly specific claims about skin firming,” he said.

Other beauty claims

Antula Healthcare is not the first company to produce a chewing gum with health and beauty claims, according to Vierhile, with a handful of similar launches, mainly in Asia.

In 2009, E-Mart For My Body chewing gum was launched in South Korea, which contained collagen, vitamin C and hesperidin.

In the US, there has been a pair of high profile chewing gum launches that Vierhile said has elevated the concept of functional gum.

Cadbury Adams launched Stride Spark with B6 and B12 vitamins earlier this year (though the product makes no specific claims about the skin) and the company also debuted Trident Vitality in varieties like Rejuve, Awaken and Vigorate.

The latter variant, Vigorate, contains 10 per cent of the daily value of vitamin C.

“Given all of this new product activity, it was probably inevitable that companies would begin to get more specific with regard to health claims for chewing gum,” said Vierhile.

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