Absolutely conkers: Innocent Drinks’ seasonal advertising campaign leads to public health warning

By Bethany Kirkbride
October 25 2019, 10.25

The popular smoothie brand Innocent Drinks is warning people not to eat conkers after it ‘accidentally’ advertised a poisonous new dairy-free milk alternative.

The London-based company, renowned for its humorous use of social media, put out a tweet launching a new dairy-free drink using the hashtag #conkermilk on 17 October.

Innocent Drinks’ Twitter followers were quick to point out that conkers are actually poisonous, leading the company to dedicate its subsequent social media posts to warning people about the dangers of horse chestnut tree seeds.

An Innocent Drinks spokesperson said: “People have always suspected dairy free drinks don’t contain conkers, but no one’s come out and properly confirmed it before.

“We’re proud to be leading this charge, reassuring the public that dairy free drinks don’t contain conkers and are fit for humans.

“As part of our conker-eating-prevention service, we have launched a multi-pronged comms attack across social media, dedicating hours of overtime to making sure people know not to eat conkers.

“Our warnings have been seen over 2.3 million times, so we’re confident the message is getting out there. And the message is clear. Please do not eat or milk conkers.”

The brand is evidently using its public health stunt to create press for its range of alternative nut based milks, but they do have a point: conkers are poisonous, and whilst humans might not be gullible enough to actually eat them, pets might think of them as a tasty treat.

Horse chestnut seeds contain alkaloid saponins and glucosides, and these toxins can cause sickness if eaten by pets.

RSPCA chief veterinary officer Caroline Allen said: “Autumn is here and that means the ground is littered with acorns and conkers falling from the trees.

“Acorns and conkers do have the potential to cause vomiting, diarrhoea and other symptoms, but the signs are usually mild.

“The main concern for dogs ingesting these would be the potential for gut obstruction, although this is uncommon. Owners should be cautious and try to prevent their dogs from eating them.

“Anyone who is concerned their dog is showing symptoms of poisoning or obstruction should speak to their vet.”

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