Businesses that advertise food and ‘health-enhancing’ products to consumers must avoid making misleading health claims about the benefits of their products.
EasyMeals Misleading Health Claims
EasyMeals, an online food retailer, recently caught the attention of the ACCC for making misleading representations in the marketing and supply of their pre-packaged meals. The ACCC found that:
- EasyMeals made false or misleading representations regarding the health benefits of their meals. They marketed the meals as suitable for all individuals suffering from diabetes. In fact, whether or not the meals were suitable depended on the individual diabetic, their diet, and the severity of their condition.
- EasyMeals misled consumers by representing that they would be provided with a complimentary meal just by registering their contact information. In actual fact, a free meal was only received after a meal was first purchased.
- EasyMeals conducted a series of telemarketing calls to consumers in an effort to generate sales. In doing so, EasyMeals failed to provide consumers with the required information under the unsolicited consumer agreements provisions of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
After being contacted by the ACCC, EasyMeals made various efforts to remedy its conduct of misleading health claims, including refunding customers, conducting an internal investigation, and implementing corrective measures.
EasyMeals also offered a Court enforceable undertaking to the ACCC. In the undertaking EasyMeals committed to beginning an ACL compliance program and refraining from engaging in similar conduct for three years. They also committed to publishing a corrective notice on its website.
This outcome demonstrated the strong focus the ACCC has on businesses making misleading health claims in relation to benefits of products.
Lessons for you Business
CIE Legal has a wealth of experience in reviewing advertising material and providing legal compliance training. These services assist businesses in preventing contraventions of the ACL, while maintaining a compelling a marketing message. If your business ends up on the wrong side of an ACCC enquiry, we can also provide strategic advice to minimise the adverse impact to your business and your brand. Please contact us if you need assistance.