Sainsbury’s has been criticised by the advertising watchdog, which said the supermarket’s ‘Feed Your Family For £50′ campaign was misleading.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the meal plans did not include enough calories and ingredients to feed a family of four.
It criticised Sainsbury’s for not making it clear that extra snacks and cooking items would have to be bought separately.
Launched last May, the Feed Your Family For £50 campaign said: “Sainsbury’s will provide everything a family shopper will need, starting with a list of ingredients and menu cards for a family of 4 for seven days: 84 meals, including a Sunday roast.”
The supermarket chain’s television, online and print adverts attracted seven complaints over the meal deal.
Two of the complainants suggested that the plans were not suitable for children under four years old while another claimed the campaign condoned poor nutritional habits in children.
Sainsbury’s said the overall message never included drinks or snacks and the terms and conditions clearly stated that the meal plans were devised to provide at least 75% of the recommended daily calories for a UK adult.
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 ASA said 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 they 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.
The ASA said: “We told Sainsbury’s to ensure that ads featuring meal plans explained how the calorific content of those plans had been calculated and made clear if they were not designed to meet all calorie requirements.
“We told Sainsbury’s to ensure that headline prices for meal plans included any integral store cupboard ingredients, unless they held evidence that most or all customers would already have those ingredients at home.”
A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “We are surprised and disappointed that the ASA has come to this judgment as it does not reflect the feedback we have had from our customers.
“We worked closely with independent experts and still believe that our meal plans provide nutritious and tasty family meals in a cost-effective way.”