Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Advertising watchdog investigates air vest complaint

Amidst growing concern surrounding claims made about the protective qualities of air vests (none of which meet the current impact protection standards for body protectors for horse riding or motorcycling) a UK trade organisation has now madean official complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority. BETA, which is accepted as the official representative body for the equestrian manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade. has issued the following statement;

"The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is investigating a complaint in relation to an advertisement placed by Point Two [air vest manufacturer] in Your Horse magazine. The advertisement, which appeared in the September publication, made representations about the effectiveness of the company’s inflatable vest products in preventing or reducing injury and drew comparisons to level three body protectors.

BETA, the body that developed and administers the BETA Body Protector Standard, has filed a complaint with the ASA in relation to the extent of the claims made by Point Two within its advertisement with reference to body protectors. BETA has received an acknowledgment confirming that the ASA is investigating the complaint about the claims of the effectiveness of the air vest products and the potential to cause confusion.

BETA has received a number of enquiries from its Members about the similarities and differences between body protectors and air vests. As a trade association with a responsibility to its Retail and Trade Members, as well as consumers, BETA has issued the following résumé of advice pending the ASA’s findings:-

Body protectors (that meet the EN13158/BETA 2000/2009 Standard) and air vests are distinct items of equipment with different functions, making direct comparisons difficult. Namely:
  • Up-to-standard, foam-filled body protectors offer constant protection to wearers, whether they are on or off a horse.
  • Air vests offer protection to riders only in the event of a fall from a horse and only upon inflation.
  • BETA Standard body protectors were developed specifically for equestrian sport and encompass three levels of protection for different types of riding and handling horses. Level 3 offers the highest degree of protection. Air vests were originally developed for use in the motor cycle industry.
  • The BETA Body Protector Standard has been in existence, with revisions, for 18 years. In order to meet this requisite standard, body protectors must pass a range of rigorous tests to comply with a universally accepted European standard (EN13158). BETA approved garments are additionally required to undergo annual testing.
  • Air vests are not subject to a standardised testing protocol and therefore do not comply with European standard EN13158. However, BETA has endorsed the furtherance of work towards developing one and has scheduled a meeting to advance this.
  • It is requirement under British Eventing (BE) rules that air vests must be used in conjunction with a body protector (e.g. an air vest should not be not be used to the exclusion of a body protector), with BETA Level 3 being strongly recommended. Unaffiliated disciplines tends to follow BE guidelines.
BETA Member Retailers requiring further guidance or help with answering customers’ questions should call the BETA office".

equestrian body protectors, which use Knox technology, meet all current BETA and European standards.

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