Rich list member’s smallgoods empire hit with record fine for mislabelling “Australian made” products

Australian smallgoods company Primo, owned by Rich 200 member Paul Lederer, has been hit with a record fine for labelling imported pork products as being Australian made.

A local court in Sydney fined the company $233,325 plus $200,000 in costs after it pleaded guilty to 63 charges, including 45 charges of misleading and deceptive conduct and 18 charges relating to a failure to comply with a Food Safety Standard which governs the traceability of a product’s origins.

Magistrate Carolyn Barkell said the matter, which concerned about 100 tonnes of bacon product, showed the company had failed to implement quality controls.

“Considering the range of products over which these offences occurred, shows that these failures were systematic.”

“Mislabelling the source of meat product does compromise consumer safety where, for instance, it becomes known that the meat from a source country is contaminated.”

While NSW Primary Industries Minister Steve Whan said there were no questions the bacon posed health risks, consumers do have a right to get what they pay for.

SmartCompany contacted Primo but did not receive a response prior to publication.

The NSW Food Authority was alerted to the mislabelling in 2008 after a tip off that Danish and Canadian pork products were being labelled as being Australia meat.

A number of packaging companies were investigated, but only Primo was found to have breached the rules.

Primo managing director Paul Lederer was listed on this year’s BRW Rich 200 list with a fortune of $344 million. According to the magazine he owns 66% of Primo, and has also diversified into investments in shopping centres.

Last year Primo expanded with the acquisition of collapsed competitor Hans Continental Smallgoods, making Primo Australia’s largest producer of ham, bacon and smallgoods in Australia.

Paul Lederer inherited his share in Primo from his uncle Andrew following his death in 2004.

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