ACCC fines Hoyt’s Food over olive leaves in oregano

Posted by Andrea Hogan on 8th March 2017

Herb and spice seller, Hoyt’s Food, has paid a $10, 800 penalty after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) found its dried oregano included olive leaves, even though this was not stated on labelling.

The ACCC’s action was made after consumer advocacy group, CHOICE, found in April 2016 that a number of supermarket sold dried oregano products included undeclared olive leaves.

Follow up testing conducted by the ACCC discovered that Hoyt’s dried oregano contained approximately fifty per cent dried and crushed olive leaf.

When CHOICE first released its study into oregano, Australian Food News contacted those companies whose product had olive leaves with many responding they were just as surprised by the findings as the public. Most of the companies, including Hoyt’s, said there was nothing leading them to believe that their suppliers were not providing them with 100 per cent oregano.

Since the CHOICE study into oregano was released, the ACCC has issued court-enforceable undertakings to Aldi and Menora Foods to undertake regular testing of their oregano. Spencers oregano will also undergo regular testing.

Lesson to be learnt for all food companies

In announcing Hoyt’s penalty, ACCC Commissioner, Sarah Court, said suppliers of food products must ensure the accuracy of representation about the ingredients on labelling and any other packaging.

“Consumers use labelling on food products to make their purchasing decisions and are entitled to expect accurate labelling,” Court said.

The ACCC said since notifying Hoyt’s of its concerns over its oregano the company has been taking steps to change its supply arrangements and indicated that it would test its oregano products in the future.

Hoyt’s also told Australian Food News that at the time of being informed by the ACCC it had put into place a mechanism to isolate raw material supply channels immediately.

“Since being informed of the matter Hoyts has acted to ensure it is providing 100 per cent Oregano with further testing,” Hoyts said. The company also stated “Hoyts can confirm that our supply chains are 100% full of transparency, traceability of documentations and recordings from grower, exporter, importer, production, and distribution to plate is fully documented. Hoyts never cuts corners to ever jeopardise safety, quality and integrity,” the company said.


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