Belle Gibson's The Whole Pantry cookbook pulled from shelves

30 March 2015 | Penguin Books announced it would discontinue publication of The Whole Pantry cookbook.

The whole truth?

Penguin Books announced it would discontinue publication of The Whole Pantry cookbook, following recent allegations that its author Belle Gibson had not been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer as she claimed.

In a statement the publisher said, "Despite our best endeavours, we have not received sufficient explanation from Ms Gibson, author of The Whole Pantry recipe book, in response to recent allegations. As such, we have been left with no other option but to stop supplying the book in Australia."

'Self-styled health guru' turned away from traditional medical advice

Ms Gibson, a self-styled 'health guru' and popular social media figure, who also has an app called The Whole Pantry, used her apparent cancer survival story to promote a lifestyle of healthy eating and positive thinking as a response to the disease, turning away from professional medical advice.

"It's really important that people understand the difference between medical science and alternative therapies," says CHOICE spokesman Tom Godfrey. "If you are really unwell, your first port of call should be a trained medical professional not a self-styled "health guru" with an app and a Facebook page."

Pete Evans' paleo cookbook to be independently published

The news follows publisher Pan Macmillan Australia's decision to delay the release of a paleo cookbook for babies due to concerns about its recipes from medical professionals. In response co-author Pete Evans announced the book would be independently published.

"Bubba Yum Yum: The Paleo Way will be a proudly independent digital worldwide release in April with print to follow," a post on the celebrity chef's Facebook page read.

The recipe causing the most controversy was a DIY baby formula made from bone broth.

Heather Yeatman, president of the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), told CHOICE that extending the claimed benefits of the paleo diet to infants and toddlers should be considered dangerous.

"For those mums who use infant formula, raising doubts about them is not helpful - and suggesting unproven alternatives can be very dangerous," Ms Yeatman said.

Swallowing advice from dubious sources?

Consumers are confronted with an infinite amount of information online which can often be confusing, contradictory and overwhelming.

In an environment where anyone can create a website or an online persona, an important question for consumers to ask is how trustworthy any information source is, whether printed or online.

"Before swallowing an offering from a celebrity chef or a self-styled 'health guru' it's worth asking yourself what it the real motivation behind those spruiking the latest diet fad, supplement or alternative therapy. You might just find it's more about filling their pockets with profit than helping you heal," says Mr Godfrey.

Photo credit: Belle Gibson, author of The Whole Pantry. Photo: Garry Barker.