Pills made from “wild krill” (apparently so much better for you than domestic krill)? Antioxidants from exotic plants, chlorophyll or the “Sicilian Blood Orange”? Promises of extra vitality, vim and vigour? Endorsements by celebrities?
What is variously dubbed the dietary supplements, nutraceuticals or vitamins industry is about marketing rather than just chemicals. It’s about the marketing of substances that may or may not be needed by consumers. It’s also about money – enough money for clever lawyers to find holes in Australia’s weak regulation of complementary medicine.
Questions about the effectiveness of the Australian regime were illustrated in a Federal Court decision last month. Swisse Vitamins Pty Ltd v The Complaints Resolution Panel  FCA 536 followed a request by the Panel for Swisse, a high-profile vendor of “better living” products featuring undomesticated krill and other exotica, to withdraw particular advertisements and not repeat representations regarding those products.
The Panel is an industry-government body that derives its authority from the Therapeutic Goods Act. The associated Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code restricts advertising that is “likely to arouse unwarranted and unrealistic expectations of product effectiveness” and “mislead, or be likely to mislead”. In assessing what is unwarranted or misleading, the Panel considers the “probable impact upon the reasonable person to whom the advertisement is directed”.