Court orders Austar Port Lincoln to fix misleading advertising

Posted by Josette Dunn on 10th February 2010

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has accepted court enforceable undertakings from Austar Port Lincoln Pty Ltd trading as Austar Seafood Warehouse regarding misleading claims made about the source of some of its seafood.Austar published advertisements in the Port Lincoln Times between March and August 2009 which stated that its seafood was “100% Port Lincoln Product” and “local seafood”.

Australian consumers often prefer to buy locally grown or made products for a number of reasons: to support local producers and businesses; create more jobs; reduce the environmental impact of food transportation; or because they believe the local product is superior in quality and/or freshness.

Some of the seafood advertised by Austar was not sourced in Port Lincoln but came from elsewhere within Australia or was imported. Austar accepts that in advertising this seafood as local product, it had engaged in false, misleading or deceptive conduct under the Trade Practices Act 1974.

Austar has given a court enforceable undertaking to the ACCC not to make such claims in the future unless the seafood being advertised is 100 per cent locally sourced. Austar will also publish a corrective notice in a Thursday edition of the Port Lincoln Times newspaper and implement a trade practices law compliance program.

ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel warned that businesses must be careful to ensure claims that products are locally sourced are true.

“Port Lincoln is often called the seafood capital of Australia and consumers, who would be likely to include a fair number of tourists to the region, are more impressionable when seeing advertisements about local seafood. Consumers must receive the advertised product,” he said.

This ruling serves as a reminder to all businesses to ensure that what they claim in their advertisements is actually true.