The Australian Constitution states who is responsible for what in terms of services to the country. Our country’s actual name is the Commonwealth of Australia and is a set of six states and two territories that agreed to work together to provide the services that are needed to run the country and protect it’s people. Defence as an example is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government, whereas health is primarily the responsibility of the states and territories.
Up to 2000, every state and territory had it’s own food law that varied a little from place to place. From that year all the jurisdictions agreed that we would have uniform food laws. Since then we have different requirements for Food Safety Supervisors and other requirements in different places. Except for the requirements from the Food Standards Code, we no longer have truly uniform food laws in this country.
This situation is the same for the definition of free range when it comes to eggs. Most states have slight variations and this is resulting in confusion by those in the industry and the public.
Therefore it is not surprising that New South Wales (NSW) Fair Trading is now recommending that a clear definition for free range for both eggs and chickens be included in the Trade Practices Act as the main piece of legislation for Australian Consumer Law.
Apparently nearly 40 percent of consumers are generally wanting to buy free range product and the current various definitions allows for different interpretations.
There is a Model Code under review but it is not yet enforceable. The Code sets a maximum number of 1500 birds per hectare for the eggs to be called free range, but allows for higher set densities if rotational procedures are in place. By making it part of the consumer Law, it eliminates interpretations and potential false advertising.
Rod Stowe, NSW Fair Trading Commissioner said; “…NSW Fair Trading found some of the highest priced free-range eggs actually have some of the highest stocking densities. Ultimately trying to protect the consumer and their rights is difficult when the ground rules are not clear. The potential for customers to suffer detriment due to misleading ‘free-range’ labelling has been established and NSW Fair Trading understands the ACCC is currently pursuing a number of inquiries relating to ‘free-range’ egg claims.”
This article has been written by Rachelle Williams, The Green Food Safety Coach.