The Australian Competition and Consumers Commission today released its initial assessment of an application by the Australian Egg Corporation Limited (AECL) for a Certification Trade Mark relating to a proposed national egg quality assurance program.

The ACCC is proposing to not approve the Certification Trade Mark because it considers that the AECL’s proposed standards may mislead consumers about the nature of eggs described as ‘free range’. The proposed standards also do not meet other legislative requirements in the Trade Marks Act.

The ACCC’s initial assessment was informed by over 1700 submissions from consumers, egg producers, industry associations and consumer and animal welfare organisations. The focus of submissions was on provisions involving the production of ‘free range’ eggs under the rules.

“The strong public interest in this matter shows that consumers want clear and accurate labelling of eggs and the ACCC considers that the Australian Egg Corporation’s Certification Trade Mark proposal may be misleading,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.

This is because the proposed rules would allow eggs to be certified as ‘free range’ in circumstances where:

  • The proposed outdoor stocking densities are very significantly higher than those in existing standards;
  • Only a very small proportion of birds actually venture onto the range at any one time; and
  • The animal management practice of beak trimming is routinely practised.

“The ACCC considers that these practices and standards do not accord with consumer expectations about the free range production of eggs” Commissioner Court said.

Interested persons have one month from the time this initial assessment is published by IP Australia to provide further submissions or seek a conference, before the ACCC makes its final assessment.