A retailer that sells amber necklaces for teething babies has been warned by the Commerce Commission for making unsubstantiated health claims for it products.
Online retailer Baa Baa Beads was asked to substantiate claims on its website about Baltic amber products marketed for babies, adults and pets.
The claims included:
- “For generations it is said when worn on the skin, the amber warms and releases the oil that helps soothes and relieves symptoms”;
- “Recent scientific research has also proved that succinic acid has a very positive influence on the human organism”;
- Succinic acid “strengthens the body, improves immunity”; and
- Succinic acid has been “proven” to be “the equal or better of many commercial drugs and is significantly less expensive”.
The company has since removed these claims. Its website now states: “For many centuries Baltic Amber has been reported to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory qualities when worn. To date there are no scientific studies to support these claims and consequently we do not state them to be factual, however many people continue to report the positive benefits.”
The Commerce Commission said research and articles provided by Baa Baa Beads focused primarily on Baltic amber’s origin, makeup and historical use. It said there was a lack of independent and credible scientific evidence to substantiate Baa Baa Beads’ claims about the health benefits.
Commissioner Anna Rawlings said consumers should be able to rely on traders having a reasonable basis for their claims.
“Whether the claim is express or implied, businesses should only make claims based upon facts, figures and credible sources of information that support their accuracy. Traders cannot simply rely on general information they find in books and online,” Ms Rawlings said.
Changes to the Fair Trading Act in June last year made it illegal for businesses to make claims about goods or services without having reasonable grounds for the claim.
In 2013, Consumer Affairs issued a warning about amber teething necklaces following reports of children nearly being strangled by the necklaces.