ACCC directs seven companies to drop ‘organic’ water claims

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), has directed seven companies to remove ‘organic’ claims on bottled water products with an eighth supplier choosing to remove its brand from the market.

The move followed negotiations with the consumer watchdog and the manufacturers in question which in turn avoided any enforcement action.

The ACCC claimed that the companies were misleading customers and stated that such claims could be unjustly used to command a higher price and a competitive advantage.

Deputy chairwoman for the ACCC, Delia Rickard emphasised that water cannot be ‘organic’ as the term in the context of food and drink related to agricultural farming practices and water is not an agricultural product.

“Credence claims such as “organic” can be used to justify higher prices and create a competitive advantage for the user. As such it is essential that they are only used correctly,” said Rickard.

“Organic standards acknowledge that water cannot be organic. Any claim that particular water is organic would therefore be misleading or deceptive.” 

The ACCC rejected claims from a number of manufacturers who argued that the use of the term ‘organic’ was in regards to the brand names with Rickard commenting that “manufacturers cannot hide misleading claims in their brand names.”

The brands including; Active Organic, Lithgow Valley Springs Organic, Nature’s Best Organic, Organic Australia, Organic Falls, Organic Nature’s Best and Organic Springs have already begun to supply bottles with amended labels.

The ACCC has also urged consumers to contact them should they see any other brands of bottled water featuring organic claims.

“The ACCC will continue to monitor the progress of the changes and will engage further with retailers and manufacturers if further work needs to be undertaken,” Ms Rickard said.