ACCC takes action over ‘free to roam’ chicken claims

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 8th September 2011

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has accused some of Australia’s best-known chicken brands of making misleading promotional claims for sell their chicken products.

The ACCC has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Baiada Poultry Pty Ltd and Bartter Enterprises Pty Ltd which supply chickens nationally under the Steggles brand, as well as Turi Foods, which supplies La Ionica brand meat chickens in New South Wales and Victoria, and the Australian Chicken Meat Federation Inc.

In a statement released today, the ACCC said, “Promotional activities that convey an impression of farming practices are powerful representations which influence many consumer purchases and food choices.”

The ACCC alleges that Baiada Poultry and Bartter Enterprises made “false or misleading” claims in print advertising and product packaging that Steggles chickens are raised in barns with “substantial space available allowing them to roam freely”.

The ACCC alleges that Turi Foods made false or misleading representations through in-store displays and advertising on delivery trucks. La Ionica brand chickens were claimed to be able to roam freely in barns with substantial space and in conditions equivalent to a free range system.

The Australian Chicken Meat Federation Inc. (ACMF) is the peak body of Australia’s chicken meat industry representing meat chicken breeders, growers, processors and suppliers.

A spokesperson for the ACCC said, “The ACCC alleges that the ACMF has engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct and made misleading representations that chickens are raised in barns with substantial space available allowing them to roam around freely.

“The ACCC is seeking declarations, pecuniary penalties, injunctions, and orders that the processors publish corrective notices in newspapers and magazines and, in respect of ACMF, on its website,” the spokesperson added.

“The ACCC also seeks orders that the processors implement trade practices compliance programs, and costs.”

The matter has been filed in the Melbourne Federal Court’s Fast Track List.