Maggie Beer’s daughter Saskia’s pig claims don’t fly: ACCC
The consumer watchdog says it has warned Saskia Beer’s Barossa Farm Produce over false pork claims.
Ms Beer, daughter of Barossa Valley food icon and television chef Maggie Beer, has agreed to a court enforceable undertaking for making representations about its products that it acknowledged were likely to be in breach of the Australian Consumer Law.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s chairman Rod Sims says Saskia Beer’s Barossa Farm Produce made various misleading claims about the sources of its pork between December 2010 and May 2013.
“Barossa Farm Produce made false or misleading claims that Berkshire, Black, or free range pork was used in its Black Pig products, when this was not the case,” he said in a statement.
“This had the potential to give Barossa Farm Produce an unfair advantage in the market, as consumers are likely to seek out and pay more for products containing specialised gourmet ingredients.”
The ACCC says a statement on the company’s websites that “we know the origin of every animal that makes its way onto the plate” in relation to The Black Pig smallgoods products was also misleading, as the company did not know the origin of every animal used in those products.
Black pig breeds, which include Berkshire pigs, are heritage breeds.
Berkshire pork is known for its texture and flavour due to a higher fat-to-meat ratio than white pig breeds, qualities that make Berkshire pork a premium meat product.
Saskia Beer statement
I apologise unreservedly to any customer who has in any way been misled. I am responsible.
This is an isolated instance that arose as a result of miscommunication on the part of our supplier and a failure on our part to adequately verify in this instance the source of the product.
There was no intention to mislead or misrepresent in any way the origin of the product.
Our systems for ensuring compliance have been reviewed to ensure there is no reoccurrence.
I am absolutely committed to providing the accurate and reliable information that my customers expect of me.
In the undertaking, Barossa Farm Produce has acknowledged that it made the false representations, and that they were likely to be in breach of the Australian Consumer Law.
The company says it has cooperated with the ACCC throughout its investigation.
“Since becoming aware of the ACCC’s investigation, Barossa Farm Produce has taken steps to implement systems to verify the accuracy of the representations it makes about the products it supplies, and has agreed to resolve the ACCC’s concerns by providing this undertaking to the ACCC pursuant to section 87B of the Act,” the company said in its undertaking.
Ms Beer says in a statement she is responsible for what was an isolated incident and apologises unreservedly.
She says compliance systems have been reviewed to ensure there is no recurrence.
Mr Sims says this example sets an important precedent, particularly for gourmet food producers.
“A business must not make claims about the characteristics of its products when it has no reasonable basis for doing so,” he said.
“False credence claims in respect of food products are a priority area for the ACCC.”
As part of the undertaking made by Saskia Beer’s company, Barossa Farm Produce has agreed to review its compliance systems to ensure that it does not make such claims without being able to substantiate them, and it will also place corrective notices on its websites.