The ACCC has blasted several big players in the pork industry for falsely labelling their products as ‘free range’. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says that this is just one more example of big name corporations playing fast and loose with the truth.
Chairman Rod Sims notified the media that an investigation into the pork industry had yielded several startling results. Primo Smallgoods, KR Castlemaine, and Otway Pork were each found to have intentionally misled consumers by labelling their products as ‘free range’ and ‘bred free range’. In fact, the label was curiously applied to certain pigs in particular conditions, as Mr. Sims explained.
“We found that often the sows as it were, the mother of the pigs, was indeed free range, but the piglet and then the pig that was eventually slaughtered to create the pork, was largely living indoors in a barn,” he told the ABC. “So, the label was if you like, attaching to the sow, but the piglet itself was reared in the barn. Certainly we felt that terms like ‘free range’ or ‘bred free range’ or ‘bred outdoors’ would lead consumers to think that the pork they were eating came from pigs who were outside most of the time, when in fact that wasn’t the case.”
With major industry figures reeling from the exposure, the ACCC believes the investigation will affect the bottom line of legitimate free-range farmers. “They’re competing with people who aren’t raising their pigs in a free range environment and of course it’s much more expensive to do so,” he added. “The ACCC also recommended that peak industry group, Australian Pork Limited, change the title and logo of one of its production standards from “Outdoor Bred” to “Outdoor Bred. Raised indoors on straw”.”
In recent months, the ACCC has also launched investigations into the fruit juice industry, fresh food labelling and other cases involving deception and misleading claims. So, it seems the spotlight on labelling will continue.
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