It seems even if you want to make a conscious decision to eat free range eggs, you might not always be getting them – if the latest ACCC court case win is anything to go by.
In the past year, the ACCC has cracked open the dark side of the egg industry, revealing egg companies who say their eggs are from free roaming chickens on luscious green pastures may actually be telling fibs.
Free Range Eggs Farms (who sell eggs under the labels ‘Ecoeggs’, ‘Port Stephens’ and ‘Field Fresh’) was fined $300,000 on Friday and had to pay $35,000 of the ACCC’s legal costs in the matter.
According to The Australian, it was found that from January 2012 to December 2014, one of the four farms the small business was sourcing eggs from didn’t let the chooks run freely, while on another, there was a shed that was used to keep chickens from getting bird flu.
The ACCC said the company also promoted the eggs as free range on social media and in advertisements, and they were fined after finding some of the chickens were not always able to freely move about on open ranges, reports the ABC.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said it was a wake-up call to the industry not to dupe customers.
“When you advertise birds as free range you are charging double what you charge for barn laid eggs, so there are serious consequences for consumers, and also you are gaining an advantage over your competitors,” Mr Sims said.
“I am afraid we don’t apologise for taking people to court when we feel that the law has been breached, and we certainly feel that was the case here.”
In a statement, the company said it was disappointed by the judgement because it had ceased working with the farm involved and had amended its practices to now exceed industry standards.
In response, Mr Sims said, “We’re very pleased with the outcome, and we’re hoping it sends a good message of deterrence to the egg industry to make sure if the birds are labelled free range, that they are actually out on the range often enough to actually qualify for that term.
“And I would like to think now that we are going to see the necessary level of change that the consumers want”.