Thursday, April 25, 2024

Calls for comment on free-range egg labelling

The Government is undertaking a consultation process on free-range egg labelling prior to the preparation of a draft national standard intended to enhance consumer confidence and certainty regarding egg labelling.

The consultation paper outlines three broad policy options that are alternative ways to provide more detailed guidance to consumers and producers on the requirements for egg labels. The three policy options include the status quo, an information standard for free-range eggs, and an information standard for all eggs.

The consultation aims to gather additional evidence on the extent of the problem and the likely impacts of the proposed policy options, including likely costs and benefits to consumers, producers and other stakeholders. The evidence will then be used to assess the regulatory impact of any information standard.

Interested parties are invited to comment on the ‘Free Range Egg Labelling Consultation Paper’. The closing date for submissions is November 2 and submissions may be lodged electronically or by post.

ACCC releases guide to provide clarity

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released a guide to help egg producers better understand their Australian Consumer Law (ACL) rights and obligations when promoting their products as free range.

The guide explains the ACCC’s approach to enforcing misleading conduct provisions of the ACL, in the context of free-range egg claims, while the Government is consulting on whether Australia should adopt a national standard on free-range egg labelling.

“The Australian Consumer Law requires that any statement or representation a business makes when advertising or selling free-range eggs must not be misleading or deceptive, or likely to mislead or deceive,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

The guide outlines what the ACCC considers a ‘free range’ claim. This includes using the words ‘free range’ (or words that mean the same thing) on packaging or in advertising material, or pictures of hens ranging freely, including in a grassy field.

“If it is not normal for most of the hens to leave the barn and to move about freely on an open range on most days, making a free range claim is likely to be misleading,” Mr Sims said. “This approach accords with common sense.”

The ACCC notes the law reform consultation process underway in relation to free-range eggs and encourages consumers and business to contribute to this process. The ACCC will revisit its guidance following the conclusion of that process.

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