With more and more Australians buying on line rather than in store, the new Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) guide will help retailers get the legal side right. The publication is called “A guide for business: Consumer product safety online’.
Dr Michael Schaper, ACCC Deputy Chair, said; “Australian consumers are increasingly looking to online stores to purchase consumer products but the online environment creates some unique product safety challenges and requirements that online suppliers need to be aware of. The ACCC is concerned that some online sellers, particularly those based overseas, may not be aware that all businesses supplying to Australian consumers have the same obligations under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).”
It doesn’t matter whether the store is a physical location or on line, the same consumer laws apply and this guide will help retailers meet them.
When it comes to food purchased online, there are specific issues that need to be addressed to ensure that the purchasers and consumers have all the required information to make sure they are safe. This especially applies to the ingredient list so that people know what is in the food, including the presence of the food allergens. So this information needs to be clearly shown on the website so that the purchaser can make an informed choice.
If the required information is not available or the product itself is banned, then product recalls may be required.
Dr Schaper said; “Product recalls can be expensive for a business but the cost of a recall is not the only potential financial consequence to online businesses who supply unsafe products. Penalties can include infringement notices and the ACCC can seek court-imposed penalties of up to $1.1 million for serious breaches.”
The following are just some of the types of compliance tips included in the new guide;
- clearly displaying warnings and product labelling
- using good quality product images
- providing clear product descriptions, including recommended usage and age-grading for children’s products
- checking the requirements of Australian safety standards and bans prior to listing a product available for sale.
The new guide can be found on the ASIC website.
Written by Rachelle Williams – the Green Food Safety Coach