Britain's advertising regulator has banned six adverts for Tesco's plant-based products, saying the supermarket group's claims regarding their positive benefits to the planet had not been substantiated and were likely to mislead.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said on Wednesday it received 171 complaints over ads for Tesco's Plant Chef range that featured on television, video on demand, radio, newspapers, Twitter and Tesco's website during October and November last year.
The ads all featured claims which considered the environmental impacts of Tesco's plant-based products, such as its Plant Chef burger.
Tesco, Britain's biggest retailer, said it believed the average consumer would understand that by making a swap to a plant-based product it could make a difference to the planet and in that specific way the Plant Chef product was 'better' for the planet, or less detrimental to the environment, than its meat equivalents.
The ASA said that because the ads implied that switching to products in the Plant Chef range would positively affect the environment, it had expected to see evidence that that was the case based on the full life cycle of the Plant Chef burger in comparison with a meat burger.
"However, we understood that Tesco did not hold any evidence in relation to the full lifecycle of any of the products in the Plant Chef range, or of the burger featured in the ads," it said.
The ASA concluded that Tesco's claims regarding Plant Chef products' positive benefits to the planet had not been substantiated and were likely to mislead.
It ruled the ads must not appear again in their current form.
The ruling was the second time in two months, Tesco has been rapped by the ASA.
In May it banned five adverts for Tesco's mobile phone business, saying its use of the words 'shiitake' and 'pistachio' alluded to expletives and was offensive.