Latest free range court case highlights 10,000 hectare farce
15th April, 2016
Egg producers Derodi Pty Ltd and Holland Farms Pty Ltd have today been fined $300,000 for making false or misleading representations in their labelling and promotion of eggs as “free range”. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) took legal action against the Free Range Egg Farms, which are now among other producers, Pirovic Enterprises and Snowdale Holdings, two of Australia’s biggest egg producers, who have been brought to court for misleading consumers.
Derodi and Holland supplied eggs under the labels Ecoeggs, Port Stephens and Field Fresh free range eggs. It was found by the Federal Court that the brands used images and language to describe their product as free range even though stocking density in barns meant birds could not move about freely, or have access to outdoors. Social media and magazine ads were also used to promote the eggs as free range. “These claims on egg boxes and facebook by Ecoeggs, Port Stephens and Field Fresh free range eggs meant customers were paying more for a product that they thought represented their idea of free range,” said HSI’s Verna Simpson.
HSI are still waiting for the outcome of the Snowdale case, however we are pleased that this result has been brought down on Derodi and Holland considering the recent introduction of the National Standard for Free Range Eggs. “The outcome of the cases against Pirovic, Derodi and Holland is a huge step for truth in labelling, and we are hopeful that they have set a substantial precedent for other egg labels, regardless of the new Standard which has been questioningly set at 10,000 hens per hectare,” says Ms Simpson. “The crackdown on industrial producers who are deliberately misrepresentative in their use of terms such as free range, and who are clearly misleading customers, is needed to ensure consumers are safe in the future.”
“There has been such disappointment among true free range egg producers, who have spent years fighting for a legislated Model Code which ensures free range hens remain free, and that represents what consumers believe constitutes a free range egg. There are many true free range producers who have been established under the 1500 hens per hectare Model Code for many years and it is in fact their hard work and pioneering efforts that have created the desire for true free range eggs. To have their market deliberately hijacked by big industry players and supermarkets is staggering,” says Ms Simpson.
The results of this case come just after the Government has shown its total disregard for the Australian public and highlights how proper and fair legislation should have been granted, considering the overwhelming support for a 1,500 stocking density and true free range eggs.