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ACCC crackdown on free range eggs
The West Australian

WA egg producer Snowdale has been accused of misleading consumers over the use of the term "free range".

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has launched legal action alleging it and Pirovic Enterprises, of New South Wales, made false, misleading or deceptive representations on its cartons and websites about their "free range" eggs.

The ACCC alleges that the eggs supplied by Snowdale and Pirovic were produced by hens most of which did not move about freely on an open range on most days.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the Commission was not making a judgment on particular farming practices or the merits of cage, barn or free range systems.

"The ACCC's concern is simply to ensure that the labelling of eggs accurately reflects the particular farming practices of the producer and the expectations of a consumer making purchasing choices based on those representations," he said.

"Credence claims such as free range, organic, place of origin or country of origin are all powerful tools for businesses to distinguish their products, but misleading consumers who may pay a premium to purchase such products damages the market and is unfair to competitors.

"These matters form part of a continuing investigation by the ACCC into free range claims made by egg producers, which has involved the ACCC serving substantiation notices on a number of egg producers that supply eggs labelled as free range."

The ACCC is seeking declarations, injunctions, pecuniary penalties, implementation of compliance programs, corrective notices and costs against each producer.

The Snowdale case is set down for a directions hearing in Perth on January 23 next year.

Snowdale is one of WA's biggest egg producers.