ACCC urges egg industry to review free range claims

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission called on egg industry participants last week to take heed of the recent Pirovic Enterprises Federal Court decision, in what appears to be a continuation of industry self-regulation.

In September, the Federal Court handed down a $300,000 penalty against Pirovic after finding, by consent, that its ‘free range’ egg representations were false or misleading.

Addressing the Australian Farm Institute Conference in Melbourne, ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said the ACCC will be writing to egg suppliers this week.

“We are encouraging them to consider whether they should review the words and images used on their free-range egg cartons and any advertising claims about their free range egg,” he said.
“Some have expressed concern that there is no government standard that producers need to meet to be a free range producer. We see no need for any standard.

“In the Pirovic case the court ruled that free range means the birds can and do go outside on most days. It is up to producers to determine how to meet this common sense definition.

“Any prescriptive standard beyond this would likely have requirements that are not relevant to what consumers understand free range to mean.”

Earlier this year, NSW Fair Trading said it will lead work to enhance consumer confidence and certainty around egg labelling, including the development of a draft National Information Standard on free range eggs and with regard to the current review of the Model Code and any improvements in the effectiveness and enforceability of the Code.

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