A Sainsbury's campaign offering to "Feed Your Family For £50" misled consumers by falling short on the amount of calories and ingredients required for four people, a watchdog has ruled.
The supermarket's television, press and online ads attracted seven complaints that meal plans did not provide enough calories to meet the needs of a family of four and did not make it clear that extra snacks and store cupboard ingredients would have to be bought separately.
Two of the complainants suggested that the plans were not suitable for under four-year-olds while another claimed that the campaign condoned poor nutritional habits in children.
Defending the campaign, Sainsbury's explained that the overall message never included drinks or snacks and the terms and conditions clearly stated that the meal plans were devised to provide an average of at least 75% of the recommended daily calories for a UK adult.
The retailer said it regularly commissioned research to understand what customers had in their store cupboards and to ensure the list remained realistic.
It added that children under four had differing nutritional needs to older children and, because of this, the terms and conditions of the £50 meal planner website clearly stated that the plans as written were not designed for toddlers.
Upholding the complaints, the Advertising Standards Authority said that although the retailer had structured the meal plans responsibly in terms of calorific guidance, the ads were misleading for claiming that readers could meet all their food needs for £50 a week.
It also concluded that many customers would have to spend more than £50 to obtain all the ingredients necessary for the meal plans, and that the ads implied that the advertised meal plans were suitable for children under four years of age when this was not the case.
However, it did not find that the campaign condoned or encouraged poor nutritional habits in children.