Darling Downs Fresh Eggs fined $250,000 over “free range” claims; Dick Smith Foods may shut down over lengthy legal battle: Midday Roundup

Darling Downs Fresh Eggs fined $250,000 over “free range” claims; Dick Smith Foods may shut down over lengthy legal battle: Midday Roundup

Queensland-based Darling Downs Fresh Eggs has been fined $250,000 in the Federal Court for making misleading claims its eggs being ‘free range’.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission brought Federal Court proceedings against the company after it admitted marketing eggs labelled as ‘free range’ from December 13 to October 14.

The ACCC alleged Darling Downs’ laying hens had been continuously confined to barns and never had access to outdoors.

The court found the company made misleading representations by saying the eggs were produced by hens able to move freely as the chickens could not do so because the barn doors were shut at all times.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in the issue of ‘free range’ transparency is “very important to many consumers”.

“It’s clearly misleading to claim your eggs are free range when the hens that laid the eggs didn’t roam freely outdoors,” he said.

The court also ordered the company introduce a compliance program and publish corrective notices.

Geoff Sondergeld, the chief executive of R L Adams – the company behind Darling Downs Fresh Eggs – said in a statement the business was fined because it was trying to keep its chickens indoors during an avian influenza outbreak. 

“We thought we were doing the right thing and in all honesty didn’t think we had done anything wrong,” Sondergeld said. 

 

Dick Smith Foods may shut down following lengthy legal battle

 

Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith says he may shut down Dick Smith Foods after a lengthy trademark battle has drained the business’s resources.

Smith has received a court order to remove his trademark registration of OzEmite, a spread manufactured by Dick Smith Foods, following legal action by a family business called AussieMite.

Smith is appealing the decision; however he says the legal costs could see his business close its doors.

“The whole thing is a nightmare,” Smith told The Australian.

“I’m looking at dismissing my legal representation because we’ve spent $250,000 so far and we haven’t even got to court… we’ve given $6.5 million to charity, we wanted to give another million this year. It’s going to be something like half that now – it’s just not worth it.”

AussieMite founder Roger Ramsey previously told SmartCompany Smith’s OzEmite brand was out to “crush and destroy” his business.

 

Shares up on open

 

Aussie shares are trading higher this morning, off the back of a positive showing from Wall Street.

However, Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said trader thinking this week will be largely defined by Thursday morning’s US Federal Reserve decision.

“Although we are now only four days out from the decision, there is little sign of a market consensus developing, either on what the Fed will do or on how markets will react if they do lift rates,” Spooner said.

“Major events like the Fed decision can often produce calm before the storm effect as traders take risk off the table, preferring to react to the news rather than pre-empt it. However, the high volatility of recent weeks means this scenario is by no means guaranteed. There is also a lot of data on the US economy due for release prior to the Fed meeting. Any unexpected results on this week’s release of US retail sales, industrial production or CPI data could influence thinking on the Fed decision and roil markets.”

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was up 33%, rising 16.7 points to 5087.8 points at 11.45am AEST. On Friday, the Dow Jones closed up 0.63 %, rising 102.69 points to 16,433.09 points.

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