The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against R.L Adams Pty Ltd, which trades as Darling Downs Fresh Eggs, alleging that it made false or misleading representations that its eggs were free range, in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law.
The ACCC alleges that from 31 December 2013 to 6 October 2014, Darling Downs Fresh Eggs supplied eggs marketed and labelled as ‘free range’ when in fact the laying hens had been continuously confined to barns and had never had access to the outdoors.
Darling Downs Fresh Eggs supplied eggs it represented were free range under its own ‘Mountain Range’ label and under the ‘Drakes Home Brand Free Range’ label. Darling Downs Fresh Range Eggs also supplied eggs it represented were free range to other producers who used them to supplement their own free range egg supply.
“Consumers are entitled to rely on ‘free range’ claims made by producers,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“The ACCC considers ‘free range’ eggs to mean that the laying hens can and do go outside and move around freely on an open range on most days. The ACCC considers that the alleged misrepresentations in this case are particularly serious, because it is the ACCC’s case that the Darling Downs Fresh Eggs hens were never given outdoor access,” Mr Sims said.
The ACCC is seeking pecuniary penalties, a declaration, an injunction, an order for a compliance program to be established, a publication order and costs.
The matter is set down for a directions hearing at 10:15am in Brisbane on 5 February 2015 before Justice Dowsett.
Darling Downs Fresh Eggs supplies eggs from farms located in Queensland approximately 40km south west of Toowoomba.
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