Consumer win on supplements labelling: CHOICE

CHOICE has welcomed a commitment from Labor for improved labelling of vitamins and supplements following public pressure

The consumer advocacy group has welcomed the Australian Labor Party’s commitment to strengthen consumer protections on traditional medicines, by requiring disclaimers on products not backed by medical or scientific evidence.

This decision follows sustained public pressure by CHOICE and other concerned stakeholders against laws that would see misleading and potentially dangerous claims on therapeutic goods such as vitamins and supplements.

“Labor’s decision today to strengthen consumer protections on traditional medicines is a huge win for consumers,” says CHOICE Campaigns and Policy Team Lead Katinka Day.

“Clear and prominent disclaimers on products with no scientific basis will enable consumers to separate fact from fiction and ensure they don’t pay for products that may not work.”

Previously, Labor had backed reforms to the Therapeutic Goods Administration on complementary medicines which CHOICE says allowed misleading and dangerous claims on vitamins and supplements.

These reforms include new legislation which would mean:

  • Homeopathic products can claim they decrease the time it takes to fall asleep and relieve symptoms of mild anxiety despite the Federal Government warning that homeopathic products are ineffective.
  • Tonics can claim to help maintain healthy heart function without having scientific evidence to back their claims.

“Labor’s new position will ensure that all supplements and traditional medicines listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods will have to include a statement to the effect that the efficacy claims have not been independently assessed,” says CHOICE in a statement.

This position is in line with a recommendation of the Review of Medicines and Medical Devices Regulation, completed in 2015.

“Labels should work to benefit consumers, not be used to legitimise products that have no proven medical or scientific benefit,” says Ms Day.

“Labor’s commitment to improve harmful reforms on therapeutic goods will ensure that consumers are protected from misleading and potentially dangerous claims on these products.”

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