Durban - An independent advertising watchdog has found in favour of a consumer who complained that a restaurant chain’s fruit smoothies contained no fruit.
The finding was made despite the restaurant vehemently denying any wrongdoing, saying its health drinks always included fruit.
Consumer Quinton Padayachee lodged a complaint against the Nino’s Group for claiming its fruit smoothies contained real fruit, when he said it was only fruit-flavoured.
Smoothies are a thick drink usually made with yoghurt, ice cream and fruit.
Padayachee said he was served the beverage at the restaurant’s Rosebank and Waterfall Park franchises in Johannesburg last month.
The smoothies were advertised on the menu, under the title “Summer Chilling” with a subtitle “Fruit Smoothies (100% Dairy Free)”.
“I tried to address the issue with the restaurant, but they failed to reimburse me for the drink. I was not prepared to pay R26 just for ice and artificial flavouring,” Padayachee said.
After sampling the strawberry-flavoured concoction and tasting “a lack of fruit”, he said he asked the waitress what it contained. “She told me it was ice and flavouring. That’s not a smoothie.”
The flavours listed on the menu included pineapple, summer melon, mixed berry, mango and strawberry.
The advertiser failed to respond to Padayachee’s claims, leading the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa to rule in his favour.
“The claim ‘fruit smoothie’ is misleading and unsubstantiated, and is therefore in contravention of the advertising code.”
The authority ordered that Nino’s withdraw the description “fruit smoothie”.
“In view of the fact that the respondent has failed to respond and an adverse ruling has been made, the authority will issue an ad alert to its members with reference to the advertisement in question.”
But the well-known eatery chain stands by its product.
The brand and marketing manager of five years, Ashrif Khan, said he had been on a month-long leave of absence for family reasons during the time of the proceedings.
“There was nobody to respond to the claims,” he explained.
He said the menu said “fruit smoothies” and not “fresh fruit smoothies”.
“The menus go through rigorous planning and checking, spanning four months, to avoid complaints such as these.”
He added that nobody had lodged a complaint like this before.
“We plan carefully so that we can deliver what we put on the menu.”
He showed the Daily News the list of ingredients.
“The strawberry smoothie contains real strawberry puree; the mango smoothie contains mango pulp, and so on… so our smoothies definitely contain fruit.”
“The fruit may be frozen, but it’s still fruit.”
Khan said the company planned to launch a counter-application to overturn the authority’s ruling.