Ethical credentials in retail – upcoming changes you need to know

With modern slavery reporting requirements likely to commence in the near future in Australia, there is a renewed focus on the ethical sourcing of retail and clothing products.  Specifically, in August this year, the ACCC re-authorised the Homeworkers Code of Practice (the Code) for a further ten years. The Code is voluntary for manufacturers within Australia and aims to ensure that workers receive appropriate entitlements (i.e. wages and legal protection) for their work in the textile, clothing …

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Food Standards Code: Mandatory Warning Labelling Update

On 26 May 2018, products containing the legume Lupin became subject to mandatory allergen warning requirements under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code).  It’s inclusion is a timely reminder for businesses to ensure that their product labelling includes warnings required by the Code. Mandatory Warnings By operation of Standard 1.2.3 of the Code (the Standard), food manufacturers must label their products with a warning when a designated allergen may be present as an …

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Social Media Marketing and Advertising Update: The Rising Star of the ‘Micro Influencer’

Businesses are increasingly questioning the value of “celebrity” social media influencers and appear to be favouring partnerships with “micro influencers” as a more cost effective marketing strategy. A “micro influencer” is a social media user with between 1,000 to 90,000 followers who, like a traditional influencer, makes posts promoting products.  Their key advantages include use of products out of real loyalty to a brand (in some cases), smaller and more intimate followings and, as a result, the …

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Full Federal Court provides further insight into the use of ‘natural’ in product branding and advertising

Natural skin care products, natural beauty products, natural cosmetics…the list goes on.  These so called ‘natural’ products are on-trend and are in high demand in the Australian and Asia Pacific retail market.  The rise of consumer demand for natural products is a result of its association with health and wellness and as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) described it, ‘Suggests that a product is superior because it has certain natural characteristics’. However, any business thinking …

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Be careful – consumer law penalties are set to increase!

Recently, the Treasury Laws Amendment (2018 Measures No. 3) Bill 2018 (Cth) passed both houses of parliament, implementing changes to the maximum financial penalties for breaches of the Australian Consumer Law.   This gives effect to the proposals set out in the final report on the Australian Consumer Law Review conducted by Consumer Affairs Australia and New Zealand in April 2017. This means that the current financial penalties of a maximum $1.1 million for companies will be increased …

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Food Standards Code: Claims in Food Advertising and Marketing

A number of recent enforcement actions by the ACCC appear to indicate that claims made about food products, particularly ones targeting children, are being closely monitored by regulators. In addition to general obligations under the Australian Consumer Law, businesses should also be aware of regulations that specifically apply to claims made about the nutritional content and health benefits of food under the Food Standards Code (the Code). Nutritional Content Claims A nutritional content claim is …

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Digital Marketing Update – FAQ using Direct Messages, Outstream Videos and Chatbots

The modern consumer makes purchasing decisions using a multitude of media platforms, and often considering more than one platform at a time.  As businesses embrace new technologies to create a seamless experience across these platforms, they should be aware of the risks involved and how the Australia Consumer Law (ACL) applies in novel contexts. FAQ using Direct Messages – direct messaging has traditionally been used to isolate dialogue with consumers and minimise public relations issues. …

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Country of Origin Labelling: Complementary Healthcare Products

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) released a guide earlier this year on country of origin labelling in relation to complementary healthcare products.  However, unlike the labelling requirements for food products (see our post from July on the commencement of the Country of Origin Food Labelling Standard available here), it is not compulsory for the healthcare industry to label their complementary healthcare products with county of origin information. ‘Complementary healthcare products’ is a term used by …

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AANA releases practice note on gender stereotypes in advertising

The Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA), part of Australia’s self-regulation system for advertising, has recently released a revised Code of Ethics Practice Note which provides guidance in relation to the use of gender stereotypes in advertising. Complaints under the AANA are adjudicated by the Ad Standards Community Panel, and the revised practice note can be used by the panel in future determinations of complaints of breaches of the AANA Code of Ethics (the Code). …

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Excessive Surcharge Provisions enforced by the ACCC

Earlier this week, the ACCC commenced its first proceedings under new provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) that ban excessive payment surcharges.  This clearly signals that the ACCC is actively monitoring and enforcing these restrictions, and comes as a timely reminder for businesses to review their surcharges for accepting payment by credit, debit and prepaid cards to ensure compliance. Under these provisions, merchants must not charge customers surcharges in excess of the …

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Food and Grocery Code of Conduct Review

The Food and Grocery Code is the first prescribed voluntary code under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) regulating the conduct of supermarket retailers and wholesalers who have agreed to be bound by the code. A draft report released on 2 July details 14 draft recommendations made by the review. The key draft recommendations focus on expanding the scope of the code to ensure that all significant wholesalers and retailers are bound by the …

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Changes to therapeutic goods advertising in Australia

From 1 January 2019, businesses marketing and advertising therapeutic goods (medicines and medical devices) must comply with new requirements under the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code 2018 (2018 Code). In addition to general requirements under the Australian Consumer Law with respect to false, misleading and deceptive claims, the 2018 Code specifically regulates the types and content of representations that can be made about therapeutic goods.  Notably, this includes everyday items such as sunscreen. Key changes under …

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Country of origin food labelling has commenced!

From 1 July 2018, it became mandatory for businesses to ensure that food offered for retail sale in Australia is labelled in accordance with the Country of Origin Food Labelling Information Standard (the Standard). The Standard is aimed at providing consumers with greater certainty for where food is made, produced and grown when making purchasing decisions. For more information on the requirements of the Standard, see our previous update here. To monitor compliance, the Australian …

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Sexual appeal advertising: Code of ethics amendments

Effective from 1 March 2018, the Advertising Standards Bureau now accepts complaints under the amended section 2.2 of the Australian Association of National Advertisers’ Code of Ethics (the Code), which prevents advertising that uses sex appeal from being exploitative or degrading. The amended section 2.2 provides that advertising or marketing communications shall not employ sexual appeal: where images of minors or people who appear to be minors are used; or in a manner which is exploitative …

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Targeted: Organic claims

The ACCC has indicated that it is currently targeting businesses for making false or misleading ‘organic’ claims about their products. With a number of infringement notices issued as part of the investigations, it is a timely reminder for businesses to ensure that any product claims such as ‘organic’, ‘100% organic’ or ‘made using organic ingredients’ are true and can be substantiated. Similarly, any products labelled as ‘certified organic’ should have undergone a certification process.Whilst there …

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