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Essential oil bottle and sage.
30 April 2020

Essential oil sellers' Covid-19 claims don’t wash

Don’t get taken in by claims essential oils can fight coronavirus.

Heard the one about how washing your fruit and vege in essential oil can stave off coronavirus? A video posted by a sales rep for doTerra, an essential oil manufacturer, promoted doing just that.

The video was posted by a doTerra “wellness advocate” on her Facebook page. In the clip, the rep says it’s “really, really important at the moment, super-important, more important than ever … to wash our fruit and vege … We don’t know, number one, who’s touched it, we don’t know if someone has sneezed or coughed or anything”.

doTerra logo.
doTerra International has been warned by the US Federal Trade Commission for social media posts claiming essential oils could prevent or treat Covid-19.

She then demonstrates how to soak fresh produce in a bowl with lemon essential oil plus cider vinegar and water. The oil isn’t cheap: a 15ml bottle costs $20.

While it’s true you should wash your fruit and vege, there’s no evidence washing them in essential oils does anything to reduce your risk of getting Covid-19.

When we questioned doTerra’s New Zealand office about the sales rep’s advice, the company said it would ask her to remove the video “to avoid any perceived misinterpretation”. It’s since been taken down.

Last week, doTerra International, based in Utah, got a warning from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for other social media posts made by reps claiming essential oils could prevent or treat Covid-19.

doTerra essential oil products.
There’s no evidence washing your fruit and vege in essential oils does anything to reduce your risk of getting Covid-19.

One post had an image of doTerra peppermint and lemon essential oil bottles, with the hashtags “#covid #prevention”.

Another post stated: “If interested to learn more or obtain oils or rollers let me know. A little extra protection can help #doterra #NursesCOVID19 #Dialysis #ImmunityBoosters #ImproveRespiratoryFunction”.

The FTC put doTerra on notice to stop making claims its essential oils can fight Covid-19, stating “any coronavirus-related prevention or treatment claims regarding such products are not supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence”.

Our advice

  • If you see claims essential oils provide protection against Covid-19, don’t believe them. Any traders making these claims risk misleading consumers and breaching the Fair Trading Act. Report them to the Commerce Commission. Let us know too.

  • You don’t need to pay for pricey cleaning products in the fight against coronavirus. Wash your fruit and vege well in water and follow basic hygiene measures when you’re preparing food.

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