Big fines for big coronavirus claims about food supplements

Shop owners who posted false health claims for food supplements, claiming they could help or prevent coronavirus infection, have been hit with fines of up to €150,000.

A team of government inspectors spent four months checking for online advertising spreading the claims.

‘The fines are disproportionately high,’ one of the shop owners told RTL Nieuws. The man, who wanted to remain anonymous because he will be disputing the fine, said he had received two €10,000 fines in quick succession because he had suggested there was a link between the food supplement Resveratrol and vitamin D, and coronavirus.

‘We put a link to a UMC Groningen doctor on our social media page who had said Resveratrol could prevent infection,’ the man told the broadcaster. ‘We are not doing this because we want to hurt people, we do this because we want to help and inform them.’

The NVWA found some 62 shops which had posted false health claims for products. It is not clear how many were fined.

The fines are high because the offense is a serious one, the NVWA said. ‘Everyone who sells food products is supposed to know the rules. We take the size of the shop and the circumstances into account when determining the fine,’ a spokesperson told RTL.

The independent watchdog for medical advertising Keuringsraad said the fines are in accordance with the law on medicines which explains why they can run into the tens of thousands of euros.

‘Any hint that a product may help against coronavirus without a scientific basis for the claim is punishable by law. In some rare cases shops have posted so many false claims the fines have bankrupted them,’ spokeswoman Clarinca van Assen said

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