Today I hosted a meeting of State and Territory Consumer Affairs Ministers.
Our gathering was a constructive one – each Minister and representative focussed on ensuring the interests of their constituents were well represented across a range of important consumer issues. Of particular focus today was the current discourse on the labelling of commercially sold eggs across our nation.
Ministers agreed further policy intervention is required to enhance consumer confidence and certainty regarding egg labelling. It is important to provide producers and retailers with greater clarity on what consumer regulatory agencies will consider not to be false and misleading representations.
In our discussions today, Ministers reflected on recent Court determinations that reaffirmed consumer expectations of ‘free-range’ being a descriptor for when hens are able to move about freely on an outdoor range on most ordinary days along with other considerations including stocking density, flocks sizes and the capacity for hens to readily access suitable outdoor areas.
Today the group agreed to request Consumer Affairs Australia New Zealand (CAANZ) working group to prepare a draft Australian national standard on egg labelling for CAF Ministers to consider by the end of 2015 and a decision meeting to be arranged for February 2016. The draft standard should include a statement when the ‘free range’ label may be used, based on recent case law and the industry joint position. It should also include other potential “category” labels that producers could use. During the course of the consultation the Consumer Affairs Forum will engage with Agricultural Ministers.
For the full communique, please visit the Australian Consumer Law website.