One of the largest family-owned egg producers in NSW, Pirovic, has been fined $300,000 for misleading conduct over the labelling of eggs as “free range”.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) launched legal action against the company and also a WA egg producer, over misleading claims late last year.
The ACCC alleged that over two years between January 2012 until January 2014, Pirovic used egg cartons which included the words “free range” and images of hens on open pasture.
Pirovic admitted that most of its hens did not move about freely on an open range on most days.
The Federal Court considered a range of issues, such as stocking densities and flock sizes in the barns the hens were housed in, as well as the number, size and placement and operation of barn openings to determine that the birds were not essentially free range.
The court order also includes Pirovic contributing to the ACCC’s costs.
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said that free range claims enable producers to charge a premium price and therefore must be accurate.
“This decision provides very clear guidance that any free range egg claim must be backed by farming conditions and practices implemented by suppliers under which hens actually move about on an open range each day,” he said.
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