Supermarket giant Coles has been banned from advertising that its bread is freshly baked or baked on the day it is sold for three years.
In a judgment handed down in the Federal Court this morning, Chief Justice James Allsop ordered the Wesfarmers-owned supermarket to refrain from making any representations that its bread products were entirely baked on the day of sale, were entirely baked in a Coles Baker Store on the day of sale or were baked from fresh dough when this is not the case.
In June, the Federal Court ruled Coles had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct by promoting its bread as “Baked Today, Sold Today” and “Freshly Baked In-Store” when the bread was actually partially baked and frozen in Ireland then transported to Coles stores and “finished” in store.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission originally launched proceedings against Coles over the claims in June 2013.
Coles has also been ordered to display a court notice in its stores and on its website informing customers that it has broken Australian Consumer Law.
However, Judge Allsop is yet to impose a fine on Coles, which faces penalties of up to $1.1 million per misrepresentation.
A spokesperson for Coles told SmartCompany the retailer will comply will all court orders, including publishing the corrective notices online and displaying them in-store.
“Packaging and marketing materials for the affected bakery products were changed some time ago and a final check of stores will be complete within 7 days to ensure any affected signage has been removed,” the spokesperson says.
“It was never Coles’ intention to mislead our customers but we accept that we could have done a better job in explaining how these products are made, and we have already made changes to ensure customers are properly informed.”
Laura Hartley, managing partner at law firm Addisons, previously told SmartCompany credence claims are a priority area for the ACCC.
“The ACCC has always been very concerned about having a level playing field and it doesn’t want the big guys to get away with making false claims when the little artisan bakeries and franchises are struggling,” said Hartley.
“These people are making bread which is truly fresh and then the big players are using this par-baked bread and trying to make a fresh claim when that is not legitimate.”
A copy of the notice Coles must display as ordered by the ACCC: