Court order affects Beermullah egg farm

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Snowdale Holdings has to appoint within one month of a Federal Court order a director or senior manager of the business to be responsible for a consumer law compliance program.

A BEERMULLAH egg farm operated by Snowdale Holdings has been ordered to implement a consumer law compliance program by the Federal Court.

Snowdale Holdings, which has an egg processing centre in Bennett Springs, was last week ordered to pay $750,000 for making false or misleading representations that its eggs were free range.

The company also has an egg farm in Carabooda but Yanchep News Online understands the City of Wanneroo property is no longer used for free range egg farming.

The Federal Court also ordered the company to pay $300,000 towards the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s costs.

The consumer law compliance program requires Snowdale Holdings to appoint within one month of the court order a director or senior manager of the business to be responsible for the development, implementation and maintenance of the compliance program.

The commission filed action against Snowdale Holdings in December 2013 after a complaint by the Humane Society International.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission commissioner Mick Keogh said Snowdale Holdings supplied eggs labelled as free range in Western Australia under brands including Eggs by Ellah, Swan Valley Free Range and Wanneroo Free Range.

He said Snowdale Holdings also promoted its eggs as free range on the Eggs by Ellah website from May 2013.

It has been reported that Snowdale Holdings director Barry Cocking

said the court’s “reasons” had no bearings on the Beermullah egg farm.

Choice lists the stocking density for The Good Farmer free range eggs as 1500 hens a hectare.

When the Shire of Gingin approved Snowdale Holdings’ egg farm at Beermullah, which includes Ella’s Eggs, in January 2014 it said the company had approval to keep 120,000 hens.

In June last year chief executive officer Jeremy Edwards said officers had visited the site and the numbers were within the permitted amount.

Mr Keogh said consumers paid a higher price for free range eggs so it was important consumers were purchasing eggs laid by chickens in free range conditions.

It was also important that farmers who had invested in farming practices so they could make valid claims there eggs were free range’ also need protection from others making false claims.

Snowdale supplied eggs labelled as ‘free range’ in Western Australia under brands including Eggs by Ellah, Swan Valley Free Range and Wanneroo Free Range. Snowdale also promoted its eggs as ‘free range’ on the Eggs by Ellah website from May 2013.

In May 2016 the Federal Court found that Snowdale Holding’s labelling of its eggs as free range between April 2011 and December 2013 was misleading or deceptive, and amounted to false or misleading representations.

The court found that most of the hens from Snowdale’s sheds did not go outside as the farming conditions significantly inhibited them from doing so.

A national information standard under the Australian Consumer Law introduced in April this year requires eggs labelled as free range to have been laid by hens with meaningful and regular access to the outdoors and with a maximum outdoor stocking density of 10,000 hens.

Mr Cocking has been contacted for comment.

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