ACCC crackdowns on free range eggs

Posted by Andrea Hogan on 26th July 2017

Image provide by ACCC

Snowdale, one of Western Australia’s largest egg producers has been penalised AUD $750, 000 for making false or misleading representations that its eggs were ‘free range’.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commissioner, Mick Keogh, said it is the highest penalty a court has ordered in relation to misleading ‘free range’ egg claims.

“It reflects the seriousness of Snowdale’s conduct and the importance of egg producers being truthful about marketing claims they make,” Keogh said.

Snowdale supplied eggs labelled ‘free range’ in Western Australia under brands including Eggs by Ellah, Swan Valley Freee Range and Wanneroo Free Range.

In May 2016, the Federal Court found that Snowdale’s labelling of its eggs as ‘free range’ between April 2011 and December 2013 was misleading or deceptive, and amounted to false or misleading representations.

The Court found that most of the hens from Snowdale’s sheds did not go outside as the farming conditions significantly inhibited them from doing so. These conditions included the number of pop holes, the number of birds per metre of pop hole, the flock size inside the shed and the shed size.

On top of the $750, 000 penalty, Snowdale was ordered to implement a consumer law compliance program and pay a contribution towards the ACCC’s court costs involved in taking Snowdale to court.

“Consumers pay a higher price for free range eggs, so when a ‘free range’ claim is made, it’s important that consumers are purchasing eggs laid by chickens in free range conditions,” Keogh said.

“Farmers who have invested in changes to their farming practices so they can make valid credence claims such as ‘free range’ also need protection from others making false credence claims.”

In April 2016, the Commonwealth, State and Territory Consumer Affairs Ministers determined that in order for eggs to be labelled ‘free range’ the eggs must come from farms with no more than 10, 000 birds per hectare. The birds must also have ‘meaningful access’ to outdoor space.

This is not the first time the ACCC has cracked down free-range claims. In 2014, it took action against Derodi Pty Ltd and Holland Farms in regards to their Ecoeggs.

In 2012, action was taken against Rosie’s Free Range Eggs and in September 2014 action was taken against Federal Court orders $300,000 penalty after finding ‘free range’ egg claims to be misleading.


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