Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Baiada Poultry & Ors (Federal Court of Australia, Tracey J, 2013, reported in Country News, 4 November 2013 at p. 7)
Two corporations, Baiada Poultry and Bartter Enterprises, producers of chickens for meat, made public claims in connection with the sale of their birds that their chickens were free to roam in large barns. The body representing their industry – the Australian Chicken Meat Federation – repeated this claim on its website in relation to the entire industry.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) brought proceedings against the two corporations and the Federation alleging that they had engaged in conduct which was false, misleading and deceptive, or likely to mislead or deceive.
The Court found that up to the 42nd day of a growth cycle which could be up to 56 days, the corporations’ chickens were kept at densities which meant they lacked “a largely uninhibited ability to move around at will in an aimless manner”.
The corporations were ordered to pay fines totaling $400,000.00.
The Federation’s wrongful conduct was noted to relate only to the gap between its claims and the reality at the facilities operated by the corporations (as well as a facility operated be a defendant in another proceeding). The Federation was ordered to pay a fine of $20,000.00, notify its members of the outcome, and have its staff attend training in trade practices compliance.