ACCC takes action over 'free to roam' chicken claims

7 September 2011

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court, alleging misleading or deceptive conduct in relation to the promotion and supply of chicken products.

The ACCC is taking action against Baiada Poultry Pty Ltd and Bartter Enterprises Pty Ltd which supply chickens nationally under the Steggles brand, Turi Foods which supplies La Ionica brand meat chickens in NSW and Victoria and the Australian Chicken Meat Federation Inc.

Promotional activities that convey an impression of farming practices are powerful representations which influence many consumer purchases and food choices. This is an area where the ACCC will be vigilant in promoting consumer interests and ensuring companies adhere to the law.

The ACCC alleges that Baiada Poultry and Bartter Enterprises made false or misleading claims in print advertising and product packaging, that Steggles meat chickens are raised in barns with substantial space available allowing them to roam freely.

The ACCC alleges that Turi Foods made false or misleading representations through in-store displays and advertising on delivery trucks. La Ionica brand meat chickens were claimed to be able to roam freely in barns with substantial space and in conditions equivalent to a free range system.

The Australian Chicken Meat Federation Inc. is the peak body of Australia's chicken meat industry representing meat chicken breeders, growers, processors and suppliers. 

The ACCC alleges that the Federation has engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct and made misleading representations that meat chickens are raised in barns in which meat chickens have substantial space available allowing them to roam around freely.

The ACCC alleges that the population density of meat chickens raised in barns preclude such movement.

The ACCC is seeking:

  • declarations
  • pecuniary penalties
  • injunctions
  • orders that the processor respondents publish corrective notices in newspapers and magazines and, in respect of ACMF, on its website
  • orders that the respondents implement trade practices compliance programs, and
  • costs.

The matter has been filed in the Melbourne Federal Court's Fast Track List.

Release number: 
NR 164/11