A TV commercial launched in August 2016 gave rise to an intense discussion over the fundamental right of consumers to access information regarding health risks produced by sugary drinks, versus the accuracy and truthfulness of advertising pieces.
The debate began when a group of consumers spread a commercial that stated “you drink a bottled juice in the morning, an iced tea at noon, a soda with food and a couple more at night. It looks harmless, but all these sugary drinks in a single day add a lot of extra sugar that can cause you major health problems, including obesity, which causes diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer".
In response to the commercial, one major sugary drinks producer filed a claim at the Superintendence of Industry and Commerce arguing that the advertising piece lacked accuracy and truthfulness given that it contained statements that have no scientific or medical support and failed to demonstrate the relationship between the consumption of sugary drinks and the images included on the advertising piece. The Superintendence of Industry and Commerce upheld the arguments of the producer and, as an interim measure, ordered the removal of the commercial.
As consequence of such determination, several organizations that are part of the Alliance for Food Health filed an action against the Superintendence of Industry and Commerce for protection of the fundamental right of consumers to access information regarding health risks produced by sugary drinks, a right that have never been expressly recognized by any judicial authority in Colombia.
In first instance the action was denied. However in second instance the Supreme Court of Justice, in an unprecedented decision, recognized and protected such fundamental right, and ordered the broadcast of the commercial. Although the Constitutional Court can review the decision made by the Supreme Court of Justice, it was striking for the public opinion that a judicial authority recognized such right and gave orders that ultimately may affect consumers since the advertising material indeed included imprecise information. In any case, the debate remains open and promises to be one of the most interesting advertising law discussions nowadays.
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