Pro­duc­ers have egg on faces

FINE FOR MIS­LEAD­ING CON­SUMERS

The Advocate (Perth) - - MISSING PERSONS WEEK -

ONE of Western Aus­tralia’s big­gest egg pro­duc­ers, which owns two Swan Val­ley egg la­bels, has been fined $750,000 for falsely la­belling some its prod­ucts as free range.

Snow­dale Hold­ings was given the fine in the Fed­eral Court last week af­ter the Aus­tralian Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Com­mis­sion brought ac­tion against the com­pany’s farms in the Swan Val­ley, which pro­duce Swan Val­ley Free Range Eggs and Eggs by El­lah.

The com­pany also paid $300,000 in court costs and was or­dered to un­dergo a com­pli­ance pro­gram.

The Fed­eral Court found the com­pany guilty last year af­ter ev­i­dence was given that half of the chick­ens never got to go out­side be­cause of over­crowd­ing, de­spite ad­ver­tis­ing that they did.

In his May 2016 judg­ment, Jus­tice Antony Siopis said Snow­dale’s car­ton la­bels gave no in­di­ca­tion the hens had to com­pete with up to 17,000 others be­fore they could even exit the steel sheds.

The com­pany de­clined to com­ment on the mat­ter.

An RSPCA Aus­tralia spokes­woman said the mat­ter re­flected the fact that con­sumers were con­sis­tently look­ing for higher wel­fare food.

“It is very im­por­tant that con­sumers have ac­cess to ac­cu­rate la­belling and prod­uct in­for­ma­tion, in order to make well-in­formed de­ci­sions,” she said.

“We’re happy to see the courts take mis­lead­ing and de­cep­tive con­duct very se­ri­ously.

“That be­ing said, as it stands, even good free range doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean good wel­fare.

“That’s why we en­cour­age con­sumers to look for in­de­pen­dent ac­cred­i­ta­tion they can trust, such as the RSPCA Ap­proved Farm­ing Scheme, which has reg­u­lar au­dit­ing and stan­dards.”

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