Have a crack at ‘free range’ egg consultation

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Western Australian consumers and egg producers are being encouraged to take part in a national consultation aimed at strengthening consumer confidence and certainty over what makes an egg ‘free range’.

Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection Gary Newcombe said all consumer protection agencies in Australia are conducting the consultation as part of the process of formulating a draft national standard on egg labelling.

“The consultation hopes to get feedback from consumers on what conditions they regard would define eggs as being ‘free range’, and we are also hoping to get opinions from industry participants on the likely impacts of any potential changes to labelling laws,” Mr Newcombe said.

“The consultation will help determine whether there is a need to have a clearer definition of ‘free range’ in terms of farm stocking levels and production practices, or whether the false or misleading protections under the Australian Consumer Law are sufficient to regulate this area.

“Industry and producers have also expressed the need for clarity as to the conditions they must meet to label their eggs as free range, to restore a level playing field within the egg market and to ensure eggs are labelled appropriately and without false or misleading representations.”

Options to be considered for the draft national standard include:

  • a basic definition of 'free range' for egg labelling purposes;
  • a possible 'defence' to assist producers uncertain of when it would be appropriate to use a free range label;
  • the mandatory disclosure of specific information to consumers; and
  • the possible creation of specifically-defined labelling categories, such as 'premium free range' and 'access to range'.

“Our aim is to balance consumers' need for clear and accurate information with any potential red-tape burden for producers and retailers,” the Acting Commissioner said.

“I would encourage consumers, producers and other stakeholders who have views on the subject to read the consultation paper and make a submission before the deadline. This issue will be further considered by federal, state and territory Consumer Affairs Ministers in February next year.”

Information about the issue and how to make a submission is available at: www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumer-protection/free-range-egg-labelling. The consultation paper can also be downloaded.

Formal submissions close on Monday, 2 November 2015, but further consultations will continue until the end of the year.

END OF RELEASE

Media contact (Consumer Protection)

Consumer Protection
Media release
09 Oct 2015

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