Consumer Health Digest #17-08

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
February 19, 2017

Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.

Australian chiropractor fined for cancer cure claims. Chiropractor Hance Limboro, who practices in Sydney, Australia, has been fined AUS$29,500 for claiming in ads and testimonials his chiropractic services could cure cancer patients. The claims appeared on the Cancer Cure Sydney Web site, which linked to his clinic. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Limboro‚Äč is the first person in the country to be prosecuted by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) for misleading advertising. The ads included claims that spinal adjustments could cure cancer because posture issues are "believed to be the root problem of all diseases and disorders, including cancer." The site also claimed that: "A natural cancer cure that most people choose nowadays is chiropractic treatment as it has no si gnificant side effects and guarantees long-term relief." Another article on the site said chiropractic treatment was "worth a try" to treat brain tumors. Limboro argued that he had hired a search engine optimization company to increase traffic to the website for his clinic and was unaware of the content of the ads on the Cancer Cure Sydney site. He also said he was ashamed and embarrassed. But the presiding magistrate rejected the suggestion that Limboro was not personally responsible, noting the website was registered under his wife's name.

Food dating labels may be standardized. Grocery manufacturers and retailers have announced a plan to adopt standard wording on packaging about the quality and safety of products. [Grocery industry launches new initiative to reduce consumer confusion on product date labels. GMA news release, Feb 15, 2017] Currently used label phrases such as "Sell By," "Use By," "Expires On," "Best Before," "Better if Used By," and "Best By" can result in unnecessary discarding of usable products after the date on the package. The new voluntary initiative aims to use just two standard phrases:

The initiative for common phrasing is led by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the two major trade associations for retailers and consumer products manufacturing. Food packagers are being encouraged to begin phasing in the new terms immediately and achieve widespread adoption by the summer of 2018.

HIV transmitted to acupuncture patients. At least five patients at Zhejiang Provincial Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine have been infected with HIV as a result of receiving acupuncture with needles that had not been properly sterilized. The South China Morning Post also reported that a technician and five hospital officials had been fired as a result. [Mai J. At least five infected with HIV after dirty needles used at Chinese hospital. South China Morning Post, Feb 9, 2017]

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This page was posted on February 19, 2017.