Two suppliers of complementary medicine products have admitted to labelling products as 'Made in Australia' when the products were actually manufactured in New Zealand.
Between January 2003 and August 2006 Careline Australia Pty Ltd imported from New Zealand bulk supplies of Squalene, Propolis, Omega 3 and Royal Jelly products in capsule form, which were then packaged into retail quantities and labelled 'made in Australia'.
During this same period Aussia Australia Pty Ltd imported from New Zealand bulk supplies of Squalene and Propolis products in capsule form, which were then packaged into retail quantities and labelled 'made in Australia'. Aussia also claimed on its website to operate a modern factory and employ its own researchers, when it had no role in research or manufacture of its products.
These products, traditionally used in Chinese medicine, were sold by Careline and Aussia both in Australia and overseas.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission considered these 'made in Australia' claims were misleading or deceptive in breach of the Trade Practices Act 1974. The products were not substantially transformed in Australia and less than 50 per cent of the cost of manufacture occurred in Australia, so neither Careline nor Aussia could rely on the defences available under the Act for country of origin claims.
To address these concerns both Aussia and Careline have, in court enforceable undertakings provided to the ACCC, separately agreed to:
- review promotional material and not represent that products are made in Australia unless they can substantiate those claims
- advise resellers and consumers of the incorrectly labelled products
- publish a corrective article in appropriate Chinese language publications, and
- undertake a trade practice compliance program.
"Claims that products are made in Australia can be a significant marketing tool for suppliers," ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, said today.
"The ACCC views misleading claims of country of origin, including misleading made in Australia claims, very seriously. Those making improper use of country of origin in packaging or promotion of products not only mislead consumers, but may also cause considerable damage to a particular industry, while gaining an unfair commercial advantage."
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