Aussie celebrity chef fined for peddling coronavirus 'light machine'
Australian celebrity chef Pete Evans has been fined thousands of dollars after promoting a "light machine" which he claimed could help treat coronavirus.
Evans was handed the Aus$25,000 (US$16,000) fine on Friday over his claims the BioCharger device -- which looks like a cross between a blender and a lava lamp -- could be used to help beat the "Wuhan coronavirus".
"Just briefly it's programmed with about a thousand different recipes, there's a couple on there for Wuhan coronavirus," Evans said in a Facebook live video published earlier this month.
The World Health Organizaion has warned against referring to the novel coronavirus by a specific geographical location over concerns such terms could lead to a rise in discrimination.
This guy just doesn’t get it. Pete Evans is trying to sell a $15,000 fancy light machine to vulnerable and frightened people to protect them against #COVID_19.— AMA Media (@ama_media) April 10, 2020
He is not a doctor.
He is not a scientist.
He is a chef. pic.twitter.com/q6nWb3EojB
Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) said in a statement his claim had "no apparent foundation" and it had received a number of complaints about the livestream.
"Any claim that references COVID-19..is of significant concern to the TGA given the heightened public concern about the pandemic," the regulator said in a statement.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners President Harry Nespolon welcomed the fine and told people to ignore the paleo-pushing chef's health advice, in a series of tweets on Friday.
"This 'light machine' doesn't do anything but drain your wallet," Nespolon said.
"Stick to cooking mate."
The makers of the device, Advanced Biotechnologies, describe it as a "Subtle Energy Revitalisation Platform" and issued a statement following Evans' video, distancing themselves from the COVID-19 claim.
"The BioCharger NG is not a medical device, is not intended for use in the diagnosis of disease or other conditions," the company said.
The BioCharger, selling at US$14,990, has since disappeared from Evans' website.
Evans has previously been criticised by medical experts over his questionable health advice which includes paleo diets as a treatment for a raft of chronic illnesses, bone broth as a substitute for baby formula and claiming fluoride in drinking water is toxic.