01.ACCC takes action
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has launched Federal Court proceedings for breach of the Trade Practices Act (now the Competition and Consumer Act) against a South Australian egg supplier.
The ACCC claims that Rosemary Bruhn breached the Act by stating that Rosie’s Free Range Eggs sold to business customers were 'free range', when a substantial proportion of the eggs were from caged hens.
The Commission is relying on Section 55 of the Trade Practices Act, which prohibits conduct liable to mislead the public in relation to the nature, manufacturing process, characteristics, suitability for purpose or quantity of goods.
The proceedings follow the ACCC’s court action, which commenced in 2011 over 'free to roam' claims in the supply and promotion of chicken meat.
One of the parties, Turi Foods (which supplies La Ionica), has settled with the ACCC, agreeing to pay a $100,000 penalty and publish corrective advertising. This leaves two producers (who supply Steggles, Bartter Enterprises and Baiada Poultry) and the peak body, Australian Chicken Meat Federation, to defend claims that the ‘free to roam’ claims were misleading.
The matter is due to be heard on 13 and 14 March.
While these actions are good news for consumers because they send a message to industry that animal welfare marketing claims are under scrutiny, they also reinforce the need for national standards governing the use of terms like 'free range'.
In the absence of government leadership on this issue, CHOICE will continue to call for the development of an Australian Standard through consultation with industry and stakeholders.
For more news, see Consumer news.