One of the Barossa Valley’s most famous food producers, Saskia Beer, daughter of Maggie Beer, has been hauled over the coals by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) over misleading labelling of her famed The Black Pig smallgoods.
The ACCC said her company, Barossa Farm Produce, contravened Australian Consumer Law over a 30-month period, between December 2010 and May 2013, by claiming that its smallgoods were made from free range Berkshire or other black pigs when they were not.
The products command a premium price, with a 6kg leg ham selling for $234.
The competition watchdog even singled out a cooking class she gave at the Maggie Beer Farm Shop in April 2013, saying that while Saskia claimed the meat used in the smallgoods was from Berkshire or other black pig breeds, that wasn’t true.
The ACCC also said the statement made on the websites www.saskiabeer.com and www.barossafarmproduce.com that “we know the origin of every animal that makes its way onto the plate” in The Black Pig smallgoods was also misleading, because the company didn’t in fact know their origin.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said Barossa Farm Produce made false or misleading claims that Berkshire, black, or free range pork was used in its Black Pig products, when it wasn’t.
“This had the potential to give Barossa Farm Produce an unfair advantage in the market, as consumers are likely to seek out and pay more for products containing specialised gourmet ingredients,” he said.
As part of a court enforceable undertaking Barossa Farm Produce acknowledged it didn’t have adequate systems in place to verify the breed or type of pig used in The Black Pig smallgoods and agreed it won’t label smallgoods with claims about the origin or breed of pigs when it doesn’t know.
In response, Saskia Beer released a statement apologising to customers, but saying “there was no intention to mislead or misrepresent in any way the origin of the product”.
“This is an isolated instance that arose as a result of miscommunication on the part of our supplier and a failure on our part to adequately verify in this instance the source of the product,” she said.
“Our systems for ensuring compliance have been reviewed to ensure there is no re-occurrence. I am absolutely committed to providing the accurate and reliable information that my customers expect of me.”
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