Weight loss claims must be true and supported by testing

News release

False, misleading or unsubstantiated claims are illegal under the Competition Act

February 8, 2019 – OTTAWA, ON – Competition Bureau

The Competition Bureau is calling on all sellers and marketers of natural health products in Canada to review their advertising and ensure that weight loss claims are not false, misleading or unsubstantiated. The Bureau is issuing this warning to ensure businesses are in compliance with the Competition Act when marketing these products.

While the Bureau will not take enforcement action in circumstances where Health Canada has approved specific claims, it may take action to address any false, misleading or unsubstantiated claims if the general impression created goes beyond what was expressly approved by Health Canada. In those circumstances, a product licence from Health Canada will not shield marketers and sellers from the consequences of failing to comply with the Competition Act.

In collaboration with Health Canada, the Bureau will continue to work to ensure that Canadians are protected against deceptive marketing, including the deceptive marketing of health products. The Bureau will continue to monitor the marketplace carefully.

The skinny on weight loss claims:

  • Under the Competition Act, claims about the performance or efficacy of a product must be based on adequate and proper testing.
  • Testing must be conducted before a claim is made about the performance or efficacy of a product.
  • Ensure that any and all marketing materials do not create a false or misleading general impression. Words, images and design all matter, so ask yourself, “What is the general impression conveyed by my ad?”
  • Sellers and marketers of natural health products must also comply with the Food and Drugs Act which is enforced by Health Canada.

Quotes

“Today, we are sending a strong signal to the natural health products industry: weight loss claims must not be false, misleading or unsubstantiated. Don’t lure consumers with false promises.”

Matthew Boswell,
Interim Commissioner of Competition

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