Weetabix has been ordered to amend its key "slow release energy" claim after it was ruled misleading by the advertising watchdog.
A TV ad, broadcast in July last year, showed a family sitting down to breakfast and comparing their busy days ahead, with a final shot showing a large milk container and a bowl of the cereal with milk before a voice-over said: "Packed with slow release energy to keep you going. Weetabix. Fuel for big days."
Four viewers complained that the claim "slow release energy" was misleading because they understood that Weetabix had a high glycaemic index (GI) rating, meaning it releases energy and raises blood sugar quickly.
Defending the ad, Weetabix said the GI claim was based on the cereal when eaten with milk, as this was the way the "vast majority" of consumers ate the product.
The company said Weetabix's GI, when eaten with semi-skimmed milk, was tested independently in 2005 using the standard international protocol with a result of 47, noting that the British Nutrition Foundation regarded a GI level below 55 as low.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) accepted that Weetabix was a low GI food when eaten with milk but it also accepted that Weetabix had a "mid-range" GI when eaten on its own.
The ASA said Department of Health (DH) guidance stated that such claims should only relate to foods that could not or should not be eaten in any other way, meaning that the Weetabix claim should apply to it as sold and not be reliant on milk being added.
Find out what the world eats for breakfast...
Bizarre Breakfasts From Around The World
China: Century Eggs
How do you like your eggs in the morning? The Chinese like theirs wrapped in a mixture of clay, salt, ash, lime, and rice. The result? The yolk turns green, and the egg white is almost black and the texture is creamy and gelatinous with a pungent odour.
Japan: Chawan Mushi
Japanese wake up to a bowl of steamed eggs and dashi seasoning giving it a silky, custard-like texture. These are topped with shiitake mushrooms with added chicken or kamaboko (a mixture of cured white fish and starch).
These odd-looking corns are a regular food served on Mexican breakfast tables in omelettes. This corn with a twist is technically 'diseased' corn (yes, really) and the fungus that grows from it is considered a delicacy among Mexican breakfast eaters. Spores infect the corn, turning it black and giving it a mushroom-like flavour.
Koreans wake up to this potent dish of fermented vegetables, with an added kick of garlic, red peppers and ginger.
Hafragrautur, or oatmeal, has been a staple in the diet of Icelandic families for many years. Oats and water or milk are mixed in a pot and left to simmer. Hafragrautur is usually served with a sprinkle of brown sugar, or occasionally a handful of raisins or a pat of butter.
Meat-loving Americans enjoy scrapple for breakfast, which is made from parts of a pig that is left-over from dinner. The meat is boiled, minced, seasoned and molded into the shape of a loaf. It's then fried and eaten with eggs or pancakes. l.
Hong Kong: Crab Porridge
Congee is a porridge made by slow cooking rice for an extended period of time, until it takes on a thick, creamy texture. Eat like those in Hong Kong and chuck a boiled crab in for good measure, either the whole crab, or a cooked claw.
Pakistan: Siri Paya
In Pakistan, this soup is dished up at breakfast time but it's not for the faint-hearted. Siri means head and paya means feet, so you might be able to guess what the main ingredients are in the soup. The Siri soup is made from a slow-cooked cow, lamb or goats head and feet.
Jamaicans feast on a plate full of ackee fruit (which resembled scrambled eggs) and white fish. Although this seems like an innocent breakfast, the ackee is actually poisonous if not prepared correctly.
The ASA said: "In light of the DH's guidance and, in the absence of additional qualifying information in the ad, we considered that some viewers might infer that the claim 'Packed with slow release energy to keep you going' related to the Weetabix biscuit itself, rather than the combination of Weetabix and milk.
"We also noted that the Weetabix packet, which was clearly featured in the final shot, stated 'Weetabix Slow Release Energy' and considered that the presentation of the claim on the packet further suggested that the claim referred to the cereal itself, regardless of how it might be consumed.
"On that basis ... we considered that the presentation of the claim was ambiguous, and, in the absence of qualifying information specifying the basis of the claim, we concluded that the ad was likely to mislead."
It ruled that the claim must not be broadcast again in its current form.
Avoid the cereal minefield altogether with these healthy low-sugar breakfast alternatives...
5 Sugar-Free Breakfast Ideas
Natural Yoghurt With Granola And Berries
Get your sweet fix by topping natural yoghurt with a handful of blueberries and two teaspoons of granola. Granola can be frighteningly calorific if you don't exercise portion control so put it back in the cupboard when you've taken your two teaspoons worth.
Bircher Muesli With Seasonal Fruit
This is a tasty alternative to regular porridge and every bit as filling, making you less likely to reach for the sweet snacks mid-morning. Soak porridge oats in milk or apple juice (or a combination of both) and leave in the fridge overnight. In the morning, loosen with a little more milk then add a sprinkling of seasonal fruit.
Scramble an egg with chopped onions and peppers, place in a warmed wholemeal tortilla, sprinkle with a low-fat cheddar, finish with a dollop of salsa and roll up your wrap for a healthy Mexican-style breakfast.
Soft Boiled Eggs With Asparagus Soldiers
Wrap asparagus stalks in parma ham with the tips poking out and place in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 10 minutes until the ham is crispy. Meanwhile soft-boil two eggs.
Peanut Butter On Toast With Apple And Almonds
Use a whole nut butter from a health food shop as these are sugar-free. Spread over granary toast and top with slices of apple and a sprinkling of slivered almonds.