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False free range claim has resulted in a $50k fine

The Western Australian wholesalers C.I. & Co Pty Ltd, has been order to pay a penalty of $50, 000, after the Federal Court, after it was found the owners, Antonio Pisano and Anna Pisano, misled the public by labelling and selling cartons of eggs as ‘free range’, when a substantial proportion of the eggs were not free range.

Promoted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the court discovered the wholesalers had been using labels, prominently displaying the words “free range” from at least as far back as 2006, despite the fact that a substantial proportion of the eggs were not free range.

As well as the fine, the Pisanos have been ordered to notify all their customers of the court’s findings.

Speaking on the case, Justice North said that, "the conduct involved a high level of dishonesty. The conduct was also extremely difficult to detect because, once the eggs were placed in the cartons, it was impossible to determine whether they were free range or not.

“The second respondent [Antonio Pisano] knew what he was doing and must have known that it was dishonest to a high degree.

"The conduct amounts to a cruel deception of consumers who seek out free range eggs as a matter of principle."

ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said the ACCC remained committed to protecting both consumers and businesses operating within the law against those who falsely label eggs in the Australian market.

"These proceedings should act as a warning to the Australian egg industry that the ACCC views egg substitution as a serious matter and will take strong enforcement action to stop similar conduct."

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