ACCC cracks down on porkies in Barossa Farm Produce credence claims
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has accepted a court enforceable undertaking from Barossa Farm Produce Pty Ltd (Barossa Farm Produce) for false or misleading representations and misleading or deceptive conduct in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). Barossa Farm Produce is run by Saskia Beer, daughter of well-known Australian cook Maggie Beer.
Barossa Farm Produce has acknowledged that representations made on its product labelling, websites, social media, and at a particular cooking class were likely to have contravened sections 18 and 29(1)(a) of the ACL.
Between about 9 December 2010 and 28 May 2013, the ACCC said Barossa Farm Produce made various representations that the pork used in its “The Black-Pig” smallgoods was from “heritage Berkshire pigs, or other heritage black pig breeds; and/or free range pigs” when that was not the case.
Black pig breeds, which include Berkshire pigs, are heritage breeds. Berkshire pork is known for its texture and flavour due to a higher fat-to-meat ratio than white pig breeds, qualities that make Berkshire pork a premium meat product.
The ACCC said Ms Saskia Beer, Barossa Farm Produce’s sole director, also made representations at an Autumnal Cooking Class held at the Maggie Beer Farm Shop in April 2013 that the pork used in “The Black-Pig” smallgoods was from Berkshire or other black pig breeds, when that was not the case.
A statement made on the websites www.saskiabeer.com and www.barossafarmproduce.com that “we know the origin of every animal that makes its way onto the plate” in relation to “The Black-Pig” smallgoods was also misleading, according to the ACCC, as Barossa Farm Produce did not in fact know the origin of every animal used in those products.
Barossa Farm Produce has provided the ACCC with a court-enforceable undertaking that it will not make any representations:
- about the breed or type of pigs used in Black Pig labelled smallgoods, in circumstances where it does not know the breed or type of pigs used; and
- that it knows the origin of every animal used in the production of Black Pig labelled smallgoods, in circumstances where it does not know the origin of every animal used.
“A business must not make claims about the characteristics of its products when it has no reasonable basis for doing so,” said Rod Sims, ACCC Chairman. “False credence claims in respect of food products are a priority area for the ACCC,” he said.
“Barossa Farm Produce made false or misleading claims that Berkshire, Black, or free range pork was used in its Black Pig products, when this was not the case,” Mr Sims said. “This had the potential to give Barossa Farm Produce an unfair advantage in the market, as consumers are likely to seek out and pay more for products containing specialised gourmet ingredients,” he said.
As part of the court-enforceable undertaking, Barossa Farm Produce has also:
- acknowledged that it did not have adequate systems in place to verify the breed or type of pig used in “The Black-Pig” smallgoods;
- undertaken to review its compliance systems to ensure such conduct does not reoccur; and
- undertaken to publish a corrective notice on its website, and ensure that its current directors attend trade practices compliance training.