Tuesday, October 19, 2010

ACCC takes no action against AECL

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has replied to the complaint lodged against the 'mislabelling' of free range eggs approved by the Australian Egg Corporation.
Here's part of the response:

I understand from your email that you are concerned by a study that has found that only 9% of ‘free range’ chickens actually use the range area and that the Australian Egg Corporation Ltd are trying to change the amount of chickens allowed per hectare in free range farming.

The ACCC is an independent statutory authority responsible for ensuring compliance with the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) (TPA). The main purpose of the TPA is to promote competition and efficiency in markets within Australia, and to protect consumers and businesses from unlawful anti-competitive conduct or misleading and deceptive practices. The ACCC's role includes fostering fair and informed markets by seeking compliance with the TPA.
The ACCC does not have a definition of what constitutes ‘free range’ eggs under the TPA. These definitions are generally set by certification bodies. You may wish to seek further information from Free Range Egg & Poultry Australia.
However food and beverage labelling may potentially breach the consumer protection provisions of the TPA if the label conveys a misleading or deceptive impression or representation (through words, pictures or other means) or a claim can not be substantiated. Section 52 of the TPA is a broad provision which prohibits a corporation, in trade or commerce, engaging in conduct which is misleading or deceptive, or which is likely to mislead or deceive. Whether particular conduct is misleading or deceptive is a question of fact to be determined in the context of the evidence as to the alleged conduct and to the relevant surrounding facts and circumstances.

The AECL version of 'free range' egg production does not meet the standards of the Free Range Egg and Poultry Association of Australia Inc. or of Free Range Egg and Poultry Australia Ltd - so I have no idea why the ACCC would suggest contacting them (anyway as I am spokesman for FREPAA Inc I am already well aware of the standards).

It seems that the ACCC will only consider taking action if it gets a flood of complaints from consumers - so log on to the ACCC website and complain away!!!  http://www.accc.gov.au/

No comments: