Following a Federal Court crackdown on a Queensland egg producer, advocacy group CHOICE is pushing forward the need for a national standard to prevent egg producers from misleading customers by incorrectly promoting their eggs.
On Monday, the Federal Court fined Darling Downs Fresh Eggs $250,000 for purposely mislabelling and promoting its eggs as ‘free range’ from December 2013 to October 2014.
“If birds aren’t going outside, don’t label them as free range,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims said.
Darling Downs Fresh Eggs claimed that the company was “so focused” on keeping its hens inside to maintain their health during an outbreak of bird flu that it “inadvertently” broke the ACCC’s rules and “didn’t change [its] packaging from free range to barn or caged.”
According to CHOICE, there are many egg products in the supermarket that are misleading consumers. In the case of Darling Downs Fresh Eggs, the labelling led customers to believe that hens moved around freely. However, the company eventually admitted that the barn doors remained shut at all times, so that the birds were unable to move into the outdoor range.
CHOICE Head of Media, Tom Godfrey said that while “Darling Downs isn’t the only bad egg in the free range market” the ruling “highlights the need for a national standard so that consumers can have confidence in this market.”
Mr Godfrey says that customers who “pay a premium for free range [should] be confident that they’re getting what they pay for.”
CHOICE is working with the government to produce an enforceable national standard that will set out what ‘free range’ really means and that “meets consumers’ expectations of free range.”
Find out more about CHOICE’s free-range campaign.
Do you try to make an effort to buy free range?