NZ Commerce Commission – Companies Warned Over Bacon and Ham Labelling

LAWFUEL -The Legal Newswire – The Commerce Commission has issued formal warnings to two companies as a result of its investigations into country of origin labelling for Kiwi Bacon and Premier Bacon and ham products.

The warnings were issued on the basis that, in the Commission’s opinion, the labelling was misleading and at risk of breaching the Fair Trading Act, where imported pork was used in the bacon and ham products.
The Commission’s view is that the overall impression created by the labelling on the bacon and ham products was that they were made in New Zealand from New Zealand produced pork.

The labelling included the statements:

�� In the case of Premier’s bacon and ham products: “Country Goodness from the Heart of the Wairarapa” with a Carterton address
�� and “Kiwi – The taste of New Zealand”, the Kiwi logo and the Auckland address of Goodman Fielder, on the Kiwi bacon and ham products
In fact, while these products were produced in New Zealand, a significant amount of the pork used to make the products was imported.
“The Commerce Commission formed a view that the labelling was at risk of breaching the Fair Trading Act,” Stuart Wallace, Acting Fair Trading Director said. “Formal warnings were issued to

both companies on the basis of our investigations. Only the courts can decide if a representation has actually breached the Fair Trading Act.”
“Goodman Fielder advised the Commission during the investigation that it has changed the labelling for its bacon and ham products made in New Zealand from imported pork. Premier is also currently in the process of changing its product labels. We will continue to monitor the labelling, and if we become aware of any further issues we may take more serious action in the future.”

“Consumers rely on accurate information on labels to make the decisions about which products they purchase,” said Mr Wallace.

Background

“Kiwi” bacon and ham
Kiwi bacon and ham products are produced by Goodman Fielder New Zealand Limited at its Hamilton factory. It confirmed to the Commission that a significant proportion of its products over the whole product range were made made from imported pork. The percentages of domestic and imported pork vary in respect of each product type.

In the Commission’s opinion, where Goodman Fielder supplied Kiwi bacon and ham products (or other products) with packaging containing:
�� the “Kiwi” name;
�� the picture of a kiwi and ferns;
�� the tag line “The Taste of New Zealand”; and
�� the address of “65 Main Highway, Greenlane, Auckland, New Zealand”
and the pork used in the products was imported, it was at risk of breaching sections 10 and 13(j) of the Fair Trading Act.
In the Commission’s view, the labelling with these statements would likely have led consumers to believe that the bacon or ham product in question was made in New Zealand from New Zealand produced pork. The company has removed the tag line “The taste of New Zealand” and added the words “Prepared in New Zealand using imported and local ingredients”.

Premier bacon and ham products

Premier Bacon Company Limited (“Premier”) was also warned that its labelling on packaging referring to “Country goodness from the heart of the Wairapapa” with the address of its Carterton production facility, may mislead consumers as to the origin of pork used in the products and is at risk of breaching sections 10 and 13(j) of the Fair Trading Act

Premier advised that while at present virtually all pork used in its production run, is imported, it undertakes all processing from the raw pork materials from trimming, shaping, curing, smoking and packaging at the Carterton site.

Premier has advised the Commission that it intends removing the tag line “Country goodness from the heart of the Wairapapa” and will add the words “Made in the Wairapapa from local and imported ingredients”. These changes will be introduced in September and October 2007 for the Beehive brand, and further changes are intended to be made to its other brands thereafter.

The Fair Trading Act

Section 10 of the Fair Trading Act relates to misleading conduct in relation to goods. Section 13(j) of the Fair Trading Act relates to making a false or misleading representation concerning the place of origin of goods. If the Commission decides that the labelling or representations made are likely to have breached the Act, it can take a range of enforcement actions including issuing a warning, entering into a settlement on the basis of undertakings or taking court action either through the criminal or civil jurisdictions. Only the courts can decide if a representation has breached the Fair Trading Act.

Media contact: Tanya St George, Acting Communications Manager
Phone (04) 924 3708, mobile 021 225 4417

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