In a recent decision of the Federal Court of Australia, Thermomix in Australia Pty Ltd has been ordered to pay a fine of AUD 4,608,500 for impliedly making false and misleading representations to consumers on the quality and safety of TM31 food processing appliance supplied by the company.1 It serves as yet another example of the consequences faced by consumer goods manufacturers (and others2) as a result of not adhering to the mandatory reporting required by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Section 131 of the Australian Consumer Law provides that if the supplier of consumer goods, in trade or commerce, becomes aware of the death or serious injury of any person and considers that the death or serious injury was caused by the use or foreseeable misuse of the consumer goods, the supplier must give the Commonwealth Minister written notice within two days of becoming aware.
The company failed to notify the ACCC until two months after it became aware of the fault and injuries caused by the appliance. Thermomix Australia also failed to inform consumers of the risk of the appliance causing significant injury as a result of the lid of the appliance lifting during the processing of hot foods and liquids.
Justice Murphy found that the company contravened a suite of provisions in the Australian Consumer Law and imposed both pecuniary penalties and non-punitive orders on Thermomix Australia.
The penalties imposed on Thermomix Australia emphasises the need for manufacturers and suppliers to swiftly alert consumers of potential safety hazards and to recall products, and serves as a reminder to all manufacturers and suppliers that their obligations to consumers cannot be restricted, altered or removed.
The total number of product recalls has steadily increased since the introduction of the mandatory reporting regime for product-related incidents resulting in death or serious injury commencing at the start of 2011.3
|Year||Number of total product recalls4|
|2018 (as at 12 September 2018)||457|
1 Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Thermomix in Australia Pty Limited  FCA 556.
2 Suppliers and importers of consumer goods may be deemed manufacturers for the purpose of the Australian Consumer Law.
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