CHOICE welcomes the Federal Court’s ruling to fine Darling Downs Fresh Eggs for engaging in misleading conduct and making misleading representations in its labelling and promotion of eggs as ‘free range’.
The news follows an ongoing CHOICE campaign calling for an enforceable national standard that will set out what ‘free range’ really means.
“Today’s ruling highlights the need for a national standard so that consumers can have confidence in this market”, says CHOICE Head of Media, Tom Godfrey.
“Darling Downs isn’t the only bad egg in the free range market. In July, CHOICE found that many egg products in the supermarket do not meet consumers’ expectations of free range.”
“With the government in the process of developing a national standard, we are calling for a standard that meets consumers’ expectations of free range.”
The Court found that by labelling and promoting eggs as ‘free range’, Darling Downs Fresh Eggs represented to consumers that the eggs were produced by hens which were able to move about freely on an open range each day, and that most of the hens did in fact do so on most days.
In fact, Darling Downs Fresh Eggs admitted that the doors to its barns were kept shut at all times so that none of the laying hens were able to access or use the outdoor range.
“CHOICE will continue to feed into the free range standard development process. We want consumers who choose to pay a premium for free range to be confident that they’re getting what they pay for,” says Mr Godfrey.
“Eggs claiming to be free range cost up to twice as much as cage eggs despite the wide variation in how they are produced. A national standard will help us unscramble the meaning of free range, benefiting egg eaters across the country.”