Activewear brand fined over ‘anti-virus’ claim

SYDNEY (AFP) – A popular Australian activewear brand has been fined for implying its “anti-virus” leggings and tops are effective at protecting wearers against the coronavirus, health officials said.

Lorna Jane was fined almost AUD40,000 (USD28,000) over claims on its website that “anti-virus activewear” protects from infectious diseases and for implying it was effective against COVID-19, the Therapeutic Goods Administration said in a statement on Friday.

“This kind of advertising could have detrimental consequences for the Australian community, creating a false sense of security and leading people to be less vigilant about hygiene and social distancing,” Department of Health Deputy Secretary John Skerritt said.

The website mentioned COVID-19 alongside a description of a “non-toxic mist” that it claimed creates a “chemical-free shield” that protects against infectious diseases.

The firm has since re-branded the clothing “anti-bacterial” and said in a statement it never meant to claim the garments would fully protect wearers but instead provide “an added protection like hand sanitiser but for the clothes you wear”.

The fine follows a similar punishment handed to Australian celebrity chef Pete Evans after promoting a “light machine” that he claimed earlier this year could help treat coronavirus.