The Federal Court has found three companies and two individuals made false claims and misled consumers about their ability to test for and treat allergies.
The findings conclude proceedings brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission against:
- Willesee Healthcare Pty Ltd
- Sophie Georgonicas
- Theoliza Pty Ltd
- Maria Colosimo, and
- Theta Line Pty Ltd.
"Recently the ACCC has taken action against a number of traders in the health and wellbeing industry," ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said today.
"These proceedings reinforce the ACCC's commitment to stamp out unsubstantiated claims by traders which put the health of consumers at risk."
Each respondent claimed they could diagnose, treat and/or cure allergies using "Nambudripad's allergy elimination technique" (NAET) or similar techniques. These techniques involve identifying allergens by testing the resistance of the customer's arm muscle to pressure applied while holding a vial of the suspected allergen. The purported treatment then involves the application of pressure or needles to points on the customer's body, while the customer is exposed to the potential allergen.
Its proponents believe this process clears energy blockages which have been caused by the allergen, thereby desensitising the customer to the allergen.
The court declared the companies and individuals engaged in false, misleading and deceptive conduct by representing one or more of the following:
- that they could test for and identify an allergen or a substance to which a person is allergic, when they could not
- that they could cure or eliminate all or virtually all allergies, or allergic reactions, when they could not
- that they could successfully treat a person's allergies or allergic reactions, when they could not
- that after receiving treatment it would then be safe or low risk for a person to have contact with the substance or allergen to which they had previously suffered adverse reaction, when none of their treatments could achieve this result.
Each of the respondents is restrained from engaging in similar conduct for a period of three years, either by injunction or an undertaking to the court.
The court ordered the respondents to display corrective notices on their websites and in their clinics. The respondents must also send letters or emails to current and former customers explaining that they engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct, apologising for that conduct and outlining the remedies obtained by the ACCC. Each respondent is also required to pay a contribution to the ACCC's costs of the proceeding.
The court will consider proposed consent orders in relation to four additional joint respondents on a date yet to be fixed.
In February, a separate trader, Allergy Pathway Pty, and its director, Paul Keir, were fined for contempt of court after previously giving undertakings to the court not to make certain representations about Allergy Pathway's ability to test for, identify and safely treat allergies. The ACCC has also taken action against traders this year for misleading claims relating to cancer cures and treatments.
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