What can you do as a consumer?
FASFC inspectors do everything possible to ensure the security of the online market, but it is obviously impossible to search the Internet from top to bottom. That’s why, as a consumer, it’s also important not to blindly trust all online sellers. The tips below will help you recognize a reliable company.
Tip #1. Check if the products are authorized in Belgium
It has never been so easy to have products delivered to your home from the other side of the world. But beware of foreign websites. Some products whose sale is authorized abroad are not always authorized in Europe or in Belgium. Find out if a product contains only substances authorized in Belgium. Otherwise, it is likely that your package will be held up at the European border and seized.
Food supplements that can be obtained on the Belgian market must be known to the Belgian authorities. As a consumer, you can access the list of food supplements that have received a notification number in Belgium via this page of the FPS Public Health.
Tip #2. Beware of miracle cures
If you read in the description that the product has an effect that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Dietary supplements cannot cure and/or prevent disease. Medical claims, such as antiviral, antibacterial, cancer prevention claims, etc. are therefore prohibited.
Tip #3. Trust the advice of your doctor or pharmacist
Some websites sometimes use fake doctors or fake medical specialists to recommend the product. The doctors in question are often invented by the company. The golden rule is as follows: if you want to use a food supplement, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice. Medical advice can never be given on a website. Some dietary supplements can, in fact, interact with medications.
Influencers are also increasingly used to recommend a product to their followers. Sometimes they are paid for this by the company. In this case, the influencer is obliged to clearly communicate that it is an advertising message. You can read on the FPS Economy website how and why this communication is important.
Tip #4: You should also be able to find product information on the site
It goes without saying that you must be able to read the correct information on the composition and the instructions for use on the label of a product. But, even before you have the product in your hands, you must be able to find this information in the product description on the website. Consider the list of ingredients, the allergens, the mention “food supplement”, the various mandatory warnings (such as the fact that the product must be kept out of reach of children or that it cannot be used as a substitute for a varied diet, etc.).
Tip #5: Read reviews carefully
Customer reviews can provide you, as a consumer, with interesting information. But beware, some companies do not hesitate to write reviews on their own products. It is often easy to recognize fake reviews because they literally praise the product. Again, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Tip #6: Research company information
A company that respects the rules of online sales will always display enough information about it on its online store site or on its Facebook page. An online seller who manages a website is required to display a certain amount of information. Just think of the name and address of the company, the contact details, the company number… The FPS Economy offers a practical overview of the elements that, as a consumer, you must be able to find on the website of an online store.
The most essential and obvious information is missing? You may then be confronted with a dubious website.
Tip #7: Beware if a seller only wants to communicate through private channels