The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Darling Downs Fresh Eggs, alleging that it made false or misleading representations that its eggs were free range, in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law.
The ACCC alleges that from 31 December 2013 to 6 October 2014, Darling Downs Fresh Eggs supplied eggs marketed and labelled as ‘free range’ when in fact the laying hens had been continuously confined to barns and had never had access to the outdoors.
It is the second time the ACCC has pounced on misleading egg claims in a week. On Tuesday the watchdog took action against national supplier Ecoeggs for advertising that specifically alluded to hens moving freely on an open range when investigations suggested this was not the case
“Consumers are entitled to rely on ‘free range’ claims made by producers,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“The ACCC considers ‘free range’ eggs to mean that the laying hens can and do go outside and move around freely on an open range on most days. The ACCC considers that the alleged misrepresentations in this case are particularly serious, because it is the ACCC’s case that the Darling Downs Fresh Eggs hens were never given outdoor access,” Mr Sims said.
The ACCC is seeking pecuniary penalties, a declaration, an injunction, an order for a compliance program to be established, a publication order and costs.