Science fair fells Ribena

This is one terrific story. All of us remember the ads for Ribena saying that blackcurrents have four times the Vitamin C of oranges. That turns out to be true but the question is: how much Vitamin C does Ribena, a blackcurrent juice have? 

Enter two New Zealand school children who decided to test the Vitamin C content of Ribena for their science project. Here is a link to a news item:

GlaxoSmithKline, the second-largest food and drug company in the world, was yesterday fined $217,500 in the Auckland District Court after it admitted 15 breaches of the Fair Trading Act.

The case was brought by the Commerce Commission after a science experiment in 2004 by 14-year-old Pakuranga College schoolgirls Jenny Suo and Anna Devathasan raised questions about the vitamin C content in Ribena. …

Jenny and Anna decided to look at vitamin C content in juice for the Manukau Institute of Technology science fair because “we were both going through a juice phase”.

Jenny said the Ribena ready-to-drink product was one of the first of the juice products they checked the results for.

“We just couldn’t believe it. We thought we must have done it wrong,” she said.

“We tested it another 10 times, and tested the syrup as well. The other products all came up with more vitamin C than they said, but not Ribena.”

After being rebuffed by Ribena, they went to the NZ competition authorities who launched a case. In Australia, the ACCC has reached a resolution with Ribena. Suffice it to say, those ads appear history.

This is going to add a whole new dimension to high school scientific investigations. Should be fun to watch.

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