Outrage over Swedish gum’s ‘beauty’ claims

A new Swedish chewing gum promising to keep users "looking their best" has nutrition experts and consumer watchdogs up in arms.

Outrage over Swedish gum's 'beauty' claims

“It is the ‘most stupid’ product that has ever hit the shelves,” Louise Ungerth, head of local Stockholm consumer association (Konsumentföreningen Stockholm), wrote about the product on her blog.

The chewing gum, which is marketed in three versions, Focus, Active and Beauty, claims to have ingredients which can promote concentration, stamina and looks respectively.

“Spry, pretty or clever – chew the gum that suits you,” trills the television commercial of the recently launched product Vigo gum.

Manufacturers claim that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has reviewed health-providing effects.

Nonetheless, according to Adam Svensson of the Stockholm consumer association, saying that the gum contains beta-carotene and therefore will keep skin firm and strengthen hair is silly.

“You could put the same label on a bag of carrots”, said Svensson to news agency TT.

But at Antula Healthcare, the company that manufacture the gum, they say that consumers who believe that their looks will improve by chewing the product have interpreted the message wrongly.

“We are not saying that you will look better but that you will maintain a healthy complexion,” she said to daily Svenska Dagbladet (SvD)

When asked if she thought that the message could be misleading for consumers, she declined to comment.

And according to several experts approached by SvD, the claim that the gum contains ingredients that can have an effect on your looks is misleading.

“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,” said toxicologist Ulla Beckman Sundh at the National Food Administration (Livsmedelsverket) to SvD.

She also expressed concern about the amount of caffeine in the gum. In this she was backed up by nutritionist Fredrik Paulún, who added that caffeine taken this way is not especially healthy.

“To call that product ‘beauty’ is a straight con. It is no more than a vitamin tablet,“ Paulún told SvD.

The Swedish Consumer Agency (Konsumentverket) will now investigate the claims.

“We have started to look into this today after receiving a lot of input of certain claims that people think are a bit far fetched for chewing gum,” Henrik Örnstedt of the agency told SvD on Tuesday.

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