Who doesn’t like starting the weekend off with some delicious free range eggs on some organic sourdough bread? But are you really eating what you think you are? Free range eggs attract a higher price and are increasingly becoming the norm. But how do you know when the eggs are actually free range?

What Does Free Range Mean?

Australian shelves pay frequent host to free range and organic products. Consumers, in turn, make certain assumptions when purchasing as to what those phrases mean. They typically expect free range to mean that the hens can roam freely and will not be in a cage. For organic, this usually speaks to the production of the food including the growing of fruits and vegetable with no fertilisers, or in the case of bread, that it’s made with organic flour and organic ingredients.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) sets out several useful guidelines for egg producers about what this phrase means and how they can use it. Using the descriptor, “free range”, may also have ramifications when it comes to similar animal products.

Following a number of court cases over the past couple of years, the ACCC is taking steps to ensure that egg producers who choose to use the phrase free range comply with the regulator’s strict guidelines. Egg producers would also fall under the category if they used very similar words, creating the impression of free range or showing an image of hens living the free range lifestyle! If the egg producer decides to the present their products in this way, then they too should be able to meet these standards.

How Do I Know If My Products Comply?

When assessing your products to determine whether or not you are compliant, you should consider a number of factors surrounding farm practices including time outside, ability to roam and how the birds are treated.

Similarly, organic claims can’t mislead consumers and producers should take care to ensure that if you claim your farming practices are organic, that they actually are!  In some cases, manufacturers and producers will be certified by an organic body. However, they will need to substantiate this claim by providing evidence. Bakers, for example, could rely on evidence of the baking process to show Sourdough is organic.

In Short

No matter what type of product your business produces, you will need to be able to back up any claim with evidence.

Questions about whether your advertisement is compliant? Or unsure whether you can use the phrases free range, organic or sourdough? Get in touch with our advertising and consumer lawyers on 1300 544 755. We would certainly rise to any challenge!

Edith Moss

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