$185K fine nothing to sneeze at
The Federal Court has ordered two companies that made false and misleading claims about the effectiveness of their allergy tests and treatments to pay $185,000 in fines in a case brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
The court found that Newlife Publishing and Marketing and the Renew You Centre for Wellbeing and Longevity had falsely claimed they could diagnose, treat and cure allergies using their ‘BioFast allergy elimination program,’ which is supposed to clear “energy blockages” caused by the allergen, thereby “desensitising” the “patient.”
ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel says the watchdog was, “Particularly concerned that the respondents purported to teach parents how to treat their own children, and told them that following ‘treatment’ their children could then be safely exposed to an allergen.”
The BioFast program claimed to be able to diagnosis allergies by measuring the resistance of muscles to pressure applied while the customer holds a vial of the suspected allergen. The court found this claim to be false. The companies also claimed that could cure almost any allergy. False again. Finally, their claim that following treatment it would be safe for the customer to be exposed to a substance they were previously allergic too was found to be (wait for it) false.
In addition to paying the fine, the respondents must display corrections on their websites, in their clinics, in various printed magazines and also post a video correction on YouTube, a first for the ACCC. They must also send letters and emails to past and current customers explaining that they had engaged in deceptive conduct, apologising and outlining the remedial action.
This case follows a related one from March which found against three companies and two individuals who had made false claims regarding ‘Nambudripad's allergy elimination technique’ or similar, although there was no monetary penalty in that case.