Are you being ripped off when buying free range eggs? 51



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There’s further evidence today that the free-range egg industry is rife with misrepresentation after a major producer was slapped with a $250,000 fine for promoting its eggs as free range when the birds never actually went outside.

The Federal Court has declared that RL Adams Pty Ltd, trading as Darling Downs Fresh Eggs, engaged in misleading conduct and made misleading representations in its labelling and promotion of eggs as ‘free range’, in proceedings brought by the ACCC.

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, the laying hens had been continuously confined to barns and had never had access to the outdoors.

In fact, as Darling Downs Fresh Eggs admitted, 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.


“The issue of free range is very important to many consumers and the Australian Consumer Law requires egg producers to make truthful, and not misleading, claims,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said. “It’s clearly misleading to claim your eggs are free range when the hens that laid the eggs didn’t roam freely outdoors.”

He also told News Limited: “Consumers are sometimes paying a 50 to 100 per cent premium for free range eggs and they make up about 40-50 per cent of sales. We have to make sure consumers getting what they paid for.”

“People are willing to pay a premium for free range eggs which they believe meet ethical or welfare standards. Businesses should not be benefitting financially from misleading claims about farming practices,” Mr Sims said.

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Darling Downs Fresh Eggs supplies eggs from farms located in Queensland, approximately 40km south west of Toowoomba. It sold eggs labelled as ‘free range’ to consumers in Queensland, the Northern Territory and New South Wales.

Darling Downs Fresh Eggs supplied eggs it represented were free range under its own ‘Mountain Range’ label and under the ‘Drakes Home Brand Free Range’ label. Darling Downs Fresh Eggs also supplied eggs it represented were free range to other producers who used them to supplement their own free range egg supply.

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The egg producer admitted that the birds were confined during the period in question, from 31 December 2013 to 6 October 2014, however a spokesman said the reason was to contain an outbreak of avian flu. Nonetheless, the birds were still marketed as “free range”.

This case forms part of the ACCC’s broader work in the area of free range claims made by egg producers.

As we reported here, there is currently no national standard for free-range eggs, which can come from operations with anything between 1500 and 10,000 birds per hectare – so how are we as consumers supposed to know which eggs are legitimately free range?

Tell us, would you have bought these eggs? Do you worry that you’re not getting the real deal when you pay extra for free range?

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  1. If I’m at my daughters house I do get FRESH FREE RANGE, however that is not always possible so I make a point of buying FREE RANGE, now I will think twice about it in future we are ripped of every which way we turn so what is the point in trying to do the right thing. CAN WE TRUST ANYONE THESE DAYS? I think not it is disgraceful.

  2. yes we get free range but they are a local farm and well known. I heard some others are not the real deal.

  3. i probably would have brought them as our local supermarket is a Drakes Foodland. It is very disappointing to know these labels misrepresent the conditions the hens are kept in. i am prepared to pay extra to buy free range, overlooking the cheaper barn laid and the even cheaper cage eggs. I am always a bit dubious about the honesty of food labels but unless we produce it ourselves we have to put some faith in the honesty of labels.

  4. I like to buy free range eggs and organically grown fruit and vegetables, but how do we know that we’re not being taken for a ride?

    1 REPLY
    • We don’t unfortunately as we have just found out with the eggs, I only buy free range if my daughter hasn’t got enough from her chooks to give me but I eel cheated.

  5. When our own chooks go “off the lay” and we are not getting enough eggs we buy whatever is cheapest at the supermarket. Caged eggs usually and no way are we paying a premium for so called free range. Biggest rip off ever. Most people couldn’t tell the difference but for the label. Believe me I have seen plenty of unhappy free range chooks and plenty of very happy barn and/or cage chooks. Free range does not mean the eggs are going to be better, tastier or healthier than barn or caged eggs.

    7 REPLY
    • I really don’t know how a caged hen in a little cage and can’t move is happy Rod. I don’t have a lot to spend but I buy free range and if I can’t I don’t buy. I’m not into animal cruelty.

    • Cage is inhumane,imagine yourself living like that, barn not so bad and outside in the elements perfect, apparently when they open the doors in the morning not all the chooks opt for outside but none opt for living in a cage.

    • Wake up people most eggs you buy at the supermarket come from caged birds. They do not chop their beaks off. That was outlawed years ago. They all live in a cage of some sort. Let’s face it. Even if you have your own chooks they live in a cage. They lay their eggs in a cage. You may let them roam around your yard during the day but I bet you all feed them in their cage. They are chooks. What do people do when their chooks don’t lay anymore. Keep them as pets. I don’t think so. They eat them. So for goodness sake get off your high horses and face reality.

    • Debbie Ward. Nor am I into animal cruelty and nor are those who rely on the health and wellbeing of their stock for a living. I fear your understanding of livestock farming is limited and your view clouded by negative propaganda from extremists with nothing better to do.

      1 REPLY
      • Rod Faithfull maybe you should try living in a cage. It’s about the quality of life for the hen. As for the free range eggs been more expensive, you can usually find some reasonable prices for free range eggs. I do not have money to throw around but do ensure I’m not guilty of paying for hens to live in cages.

    • Debbie Ward. Nor am I into animal cruelty and nor are those who rely on the health and wellbeing of their stock for a living. I fear your understanding of livestock farming is limited and your view clouded by negative propaganda from extremists with nothing better to do.

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