Hoyt Food Manufacturing Industries Pty Limited (Hoyt’s Food) has paid a penalty of $10,800 following the issue of an infringement notice by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Hoyt’s Food is a distributor of oregano and supplies to major retailers across Australia.
The ACCC issued the infringement notice because it had reasonable grounds to believe that Hoyt’s Food had made false or misleading representations in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law, after it tested the composition of a sample from a batch of the 25g net variety of “Hoyt’s Oregano Leaves rubbed” (batch number 28615).
The ACCC considered that by including the statements ‘Oregano Leaves’ and ‘Oregano has a strong aromatic camphor like scent’ on product packaging, Hoyt’s Food misrepresented that its oregano product was only oregano, except for trace ingredients, when testing commissioned by the ACCC indicated that the product contained approximately fifty percent olive leaf.
“Suppliers of food products must ensure the accuracy of representations about the ingredients on labelling and any other packaging,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.
“Consumers use labelling on food products to make their purchasing decisions and are entitled to expect accurate labelling.”
Upon being notified by the ACCC of its concerns, Hoyt’s Food took steps to change its supply arrangements and indicated it would test its oregano products in the future.
The payment of a penalty specified in an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the Australian Consumer Law. The ACCC can issue an infringement notice where it has reasonable grounds to believe a person has contravened certain consumer protection laws.
The ACCC initiated an investigation into a number of products labelled as ‘Oregano’ following a complaint from the consumer advocate group, Choice, which included tests reports suggesting the products were not 100% oregano.
9 November 2016 ACCC acts on Oregano misrepresentations.
19 December 2016 Spencers to undertake regular testing of Oregano.