The Australian Federal Court has fined a West Australian egg wholesaler $50,000 for misleading consumers by labeling egg cartons as "free range." The wholesaler, Cl & Co Pty Ltd and Antonio and Anna Pisano knowingly labeled the products as such, even though a significant amount of the eggs were not free range.
Mr. Pisano has been ordered by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to pay a civil pecuniary penalty of $50,000. It determined that the Trade Practices Act breaches occurred between January 2006 and June 2010.
"The conduct amounts to a cruel deception of consumers who seek out free range eggs as a matter of principle," Justice Tony North said to The Sydney Morning Herald.
"These proceedings should act as a warning to the Australian egg industry that the ACCC views egg substitution as a serious matter and will take strong enforcement action to stop similar conduct," he added.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Justice Tony North determined that mislabeling the eggs involved a great deal of dishonesty. It was difficult to detect the mislabeling, because once eggs are placed in a carton, it is impossible to determine whether or not they are free range. The maximum penalty for each dispute is $220,000.