An advert from Tesco about its Plant Chef burgers has been banned by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) due to “misleading” claims that the products could make a positive difference to the environment compared with their meat equivalents.

The TV, video on demand, radio, press, Twitter and website ads in October and November for Tesco's vegan range featured a woman about to eat a burger while hearing the words on television: “The planet is continuing to warm."

This is then followed by a voiceover saying: “Now that’s not what Zoe likes to hear, but she’s gonna roll up her sleeves and do her bit … and there it is, a delicious Tesco Plant Chef burger.

“We’ve lowered the price of dozens of our Plant Chef products because a little swap can make a difference to the planet.”

Impartial Reporter: A shot from the now banned Tesco advert of a woman eating a burger (Tesco/PA)A shot from the now banned Tesco advert of a woman eating a burger (Tesco/PA)

The ads attracted 171 complaints that the claims around swapping products were misleading.

Tesco said the claims were not, nor meant to be, “absolute environmental claims” as they did not claim that the products were wholly sustainable or good for the planet.

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The supermarket giant said the wording “little” played an important part in determining the breadth of the claims, adding that they were not claiming that the products were sustainable or good in and of themselves, but that by eating plant-based products as opposed to meat-based, consumers could make a small or “little” difference.

What did the ASA say on the matter?

In their ruling, the ASA said:  “Because we considered the ads implied that switching to products in the Plant Chef range would positively affect the environment, we 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. We were therefore unable to assess the product’s total environment impact over its life cycle compared with that of a meat burger.

“Because we had not seen evidence … that demonstrated that Plant Chef products could make a positive environmental difference to the planet compared to their meat equivalents, nor had we seen evidence for the full life cycle of the Plant Chef burger, we concluded the claims regarding their positive benefits to the planet had not been substantiated and were likely to mislead.”