The ACCC is continuing its onslaught against dodgy consumer-facing claims, and is taking activewear business Lorna Jane to Federal Court for claims in July that its products protected against the Covid-19 virus.
Lorna Jane said its ‘anti-virus activewear’ was sprayed with something called ‘LJ Shield’ which would eliminate and stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus, despite the fact the business had done no scientific testing to prove such a claim.
The business also said it believed the spray was a cure for the virus, stating: “Cure of the spread of Covid-19? Lorna Jane thinks so.”
Chief creative officer Lorna Jane Clarkson also knowingly spread the information through media releases and a video posted to the Lorna Jane Instagram account, according to the ACCC.
“It is particularly concerning that allegedly misleading claims that Lorna Jane’s LJ Shield Activewear could eliminate the spread of Covid-19 were made at a time when there was fear about a second wave emerging in Australia, especially in Victoria, and all Australians were concerned about being exposed to the virus,” ACCC commissioner Sarah Court said.
“We allege that the statements made by Lorna Jane gave the impression that the Covid-19 claims were based on scientific or technological evidence when this was not the case.”
The ACCC notes the information was removed in mid-July, after receiving backlash from consumers and medical practitioners alike, but that the products’ garment tags continued to state they provided permanent protection against pathogens until at least November 2020.
The business was fined almost $40,000 in July from infringement notices issued by the Therapeutic Goods Administration due to breaching advertising standards and failing to seek approval to the therapeutic goods register before making the claims.
At the time, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Dr. Harry Nespolon said he suspected Lorna Jane was “cynically trying to exploit fears concerning the Covid-19 pandemic to sell clothes.”
“The real problem with marketing products like this is that it can lull people into a false sense of security and make them less likely to wash their hands regularly, socially distance or wear a mask where distancing is impractical,” Dr Nespolon said.
“That is why we have very strict laws concerning therapeutic claims.”