When I was eating caged eggs as part of the Mastercheap experiment last year, I copped a fair amount of abuse from readers for considering anything other than a free-range option. A court case that concluded last week reminds us that unethical practices can occur when selling free-range food.
WA egg suppliers C&I Co have copped a $50,000 fine after two years of selling eggs labelled as "free range", where, in the ACCC's careful turn of phrase, "a substantial proportion of the eggs were not free range". As Justice North noted:
The conduct was also extremely difficult to detect because, once the eggs were placed in the cartons, it was impossible to determine whether they were free range or not.
Doubtless a regular consumer of free-range eggs would notice a taste difference, and it's good to see that the ACCC takes a hard line with these kinds of attempts at deliberate deception. It's also a useful reminder that the most reliable way to get free-range eggs would be to keep chooks yourself.