The ACCC has started proceedings against Derodi and Holland Farms

The ACCC has started proceedings against Derodi and Holland Farms

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has started court proceedings against egg processor Derodi & Holland Farms, alleging the use of the term 'free range' on some of its brands is "false and misleading".

Derodi & Holland's unit Free Range Egg Farms is at the centre of the case. It supplies eggs under the label Ecoeggs across Australia and under the labels Port Stephens and Field Fresh Free Range Eggs in New South Wales.

The ACCC alleges Derodi & Holland made false, misleading or deceptive claims in its marketing since the hens used to produce the eggs for the Free Range Egg Farms business were not able to move about freely on an open range on an ordinary day because of the practices and conditions at the farms.

"The ACCC considers that free range means more than animals just having potential access to the outdoors," ACCC chairman Rod Sims said. "Consumers expect free range to mean animals genuinely can and do go outside on most days."

The case forms part of a wider investigation by the ACCC into free range claims made by egg producers.

A spokesperson for Free Range Egg Farms said the firm was "disappointed to learn" of the ACCC's proceedings and insisted the alleged conduct occurred "some time ago".

"The ACCC's allegations relate to a time when the egg industry was seeking a code and formal guidance on free range standards. FREF has more recently implemented various changes to its farming practices and has voluntarily implemented a robust compliance programme. FREF is confident that these measures will assist in ensuring that its farming operations meet the highest industry standards," the spokesperson told just-food.

"We would like to emphasise that in all of its years of business, FREF has always operated under a strong culture of seeking to ensure that it complies with its obligations under Australian consumer law. FREF has always operated ethically, working in partnership with our farming community and delivering a product that satisfies our customers' needs."