Home > Fair Trading supports Choice’s call for free range standard

Fair Trading supports Choice’s call for free range standard

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NSW Fair Trading has released its response to Choice’s super complaint about misleading free range claims, supporting the consumer watchdog’s calls for a national standard.

Choice campaigns manager Angela Cartwright, said “We have repeatedly called for a nationally consistent and enforceable standard for free range eggs to stop consumers being misled by shonky claims.

“We presented evidence to NSW Fair Trading that dodgy free range egg claims are leading to major rip-offs, with these products costing up to twice as much as cage eggs despite the wide variation in how they are produced.”

In its super complaint, Choice claimed that while close to 40 percent of the egg market is free range, many products labelled as free range do not meet the existing voluntary standard which sets a stocking density of 1,500 hens per hectare.

It also provided evidence that there is no relationship between standards and price, with a product that met the Model Code definition selling for less than a product with a declared stocking density 13 times higher than the Model Code limit.

This year, the Queensland government increased the stocking density of free range chickens from 1,500 birds per hectare to 10,000 birds per hectare, prompting Choice to accuse the state government of misleading consumers.

"Consumers have shown they are willing to pay a premium for ‘free range’ eggs and yet changes like this make the term meaningless. This latest move by the Queensland government has jeopardised consumers’ ability to make informed purchasing decisions,” said director of campaigns and communications, Matt Levey, 

One particular egg brand, Ecoeggs, was put in the spotlight in October, when Choice held its annual Shonky Awards, which expose products and services that are “sneaky, slippery, unscrupulous and sometimes unsafe.” Ecoeggs claimed the People’s Choice Shonkiest Shonky Award for having stocking densities of 20,000 bird per hectare, more than 10 times the free range standard.

“Ecoeggs met several of the Shonkys criteria through consumer confusion, consumer frustration and plain outrage. The people have spoken, and Ecoeggs have been crowned the People’s Choice Shonkiest Shonky,” says Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey.

Ecoeggs contacted Choice following the Shonky Awards and posted a statement on its website rejecting the award, stating they had halved their stocking density to 10,000 birds per hectare – however their cartons still displayed densities of 20,000.

Image: hdwallpaperszon.com 

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