The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a claim that Pret A Manger incorrectly described its food as "natural". Pubs should take note, here's why...

 

Freshly cooked.

Freshly prepared.

Natural ingredients.

Natural food.

Use any of these terms on your menus or promotional materials? There are plenty of pubs that do but if the claims aren't 100 per cent correct then they could get you into trouble.

Last year, a restaurant in Hay on Wye fell foul of the law after it claimed that Salmon being served were straight from the river Wye. The truth? It was farmed.

That's an extreme example but a ruling today, in which the ASA has said that sandwich chain Pret was wrong to describe its food as natural, means that pubs now need to be very careful indeed - even when it comes to someting as "natural sounding" as freshly baked bread bread...

The description of the adverts by Pret used the term "good natural food". But the ASA said that it was important to understand research relating to the consumer understanding of the term "natural", if it was going to be used.

It said: "Guidance stated 'Natural' means essentially that the product is comprised of natural ingredients, e.g. ingredients produced by nature, not the work of man or interfered with by man.

"It is misleading to use the term to describe foods or ingredients that employ chemicals to change their composition or comprise the products of new technologies, including additives and flavourings that are the product of the chemical industry or extracted by chemical processes".

The reason that Pret was misleading was because it created products that contain e-numbers. Even if the products were freshly prepared, and commonly used in baking processes, the ASA said they "were artificial additives that had been produced by chemical processes, notwithstanding whether the additives were obscure, those foods did not constitute "natural" foods for the purposes of the Guidance."

The ban on using the word "natural" follows similar claims about natural ingredients from snack brand Go Ahead last year, where the ASA took similar action.

In a statement, Clare Clough, food and coffee director at Pret A Manger, said: "Today, the ASA has upheld in part a complaint about our use of the word natural in two instances online.

"We do, of course, take on board the views of the ASA and have already made the requested changes. We cherish the relationship we have with our customers. We believe we represent Pret's food honestly and we always welcome feedback."