The Outback Juice Company Pty Ltd has provided the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission with a court-enforceable undertaking concerning misleading labels on its orange juice products.
The ACCC investigated the matter after concerns from the Australian Fruit Juice Association about the labelling of OJC’s orange juice products.
OJC made claims on its labels that its products were "100% Fresh Orange Juice" and "100% Orange Juice Squeezed Daily". The labels either did not mention sugar in the ingredients list or stated that "sugar may be added when new season oranges have a hint of bitterness about them". "Preservative 202" was also listed as an ingredient.
Testing of the products by the Australian Government Analytical Laboratory showed there to be sugar added to the orange juice products.
OJC has admitted that its products did not contain 100% orange juice as represented on its labels but contained added cane sugar and preservatives. Further, OJC acknowledges that its representations on the labels were false and misleading in contravention of sections 52, 53(a) and 55 of the Trade Practices Act 1974.
OJC has recently ceased production of orange juice products and has closed its manufacturing plant.
In resolving this matter with the ACCC, OJC provided a court enforceable undertaking that should OJC decide to recommence operations it will:
- notify the ACCC of its decision not less than 30 days before operations recommence;
- not engage in conduct that is misleading and deceptive, falsely represents that the juice products are of a particular quality, grade or composition, or is likely to mislead the public as to the nature, the manufacturing process or the characteristics of the juice products, in contravention of sections 52, 53 and 55 of the Act, by making representations:
- that juice products are "100%" or "100% fresh" where the juice products contain added sugars or other sweetening products; and
- that juice products are "100%" or "100% fresh" where the juice products contain one or more preservative; and
- will create and maintain at its own expense, a trade practices compliance program.
"The ACCC takes seriously misleading claims and has taken several actions relating to fruit juice labelling over recent years", ACCC Chairman, Professor Allan Fels, said today.
"Despite the ACCC's previous actions against companies in this industry, consumers continue to be misled by false claims on the labels and packaging of fruit juice products. Consumers need to be confident that the product they purchase is the same product that is represented on the label.
"When consumers are prepared to pay extra for 100% fruit juice, they do not expect the product to contain sugar or preservatives. The ACCC will continue to be vigilant in protecting consumers as well as those businesses competing fairly within the industry.
"This action by the ACCC should serve as a warning to companies that the claims made on the labels or packaging of products must be true and correct.
"The ACCC acknowledges OJC’s cooperation and assistance to resolve this matter promptly".
In addition, three officers of the company have undertaken that should they recommence or commence as directors, secretaries, managers, shareholders, or agents of a corporation engaged in the production of juice products, then that person will
- notify the ACCC of his decision not less than 30 days before operations recommence or commence; and
- will adhere to the undertakings given by the company.
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