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Maggie Beer forced to amend misleading labels after ACCC wins action

Post a commentBy Richard Whitehead+ , 20-Aug-2014

Celebrity chef Maggie Beer
Celebrity chef Maggie Beer

The celebrity chef at the centre of an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) ruling on misleading labelling has apologised to consumers and claimed the transgression was an innocent mistake.

Maggie Beer-branded aged red wine vinegar, ice cream, extra virgin olive oil and rosemary and verjuice biscuits were put under the spotlight after it was alleged that the products’ labels gave the false impression that they were manufactured in the Barossa Valley when in fact they were produced in states other than South Australia.

An interstate tradition

As part of its settlement with the ACCC, Maggie Beer Products has agreed to remove the line “A Barossa Food Tradition” from its labels and modify other areas of its packaging to reflect the true source of the products.

Consumers are often willing to pay premium prices for local products and businesses are following consumer demand by stocking local goods. Protecting the integrity of credence claims made about food products is a priority enforcement area for the ACCC," the commission’s chairman Rod Sims said after the ruling.

The Barossa Valley is a nationally recognised premium food and wine destination, and businesses in that region use place of origin claims to promote or distinguish their product from others in the market.”

Yesterday, Beer issued a video statement to consumers to say she supported the ACCC’s “interpretation on provenance in food labelling” during the month-long “discussions” she has had with the commission.

I have never hidden that these four product lines are not made in the Barossa or in South Australia,” she said in the video on her corporate website.

New suppliers

Beer added in a written statement: “Maggie Beer customers can be 100 per cent sure on the provenance of the food that we offer,” she said. “I apologise to anyone who may in the past have been misled in any way. It's the last thing I would want to do.”

She also explained that the four product lines had originally been produced in South Australia, but had since been contracted to new, out-of-state suppliers as the company expanded.

The ruling comes just months after Beer’s daughter, Saskia, was reprimanded for misleading customers by stating that her line of Barossa Farm Produce pork products was made from heritage Berkshire pigs, which was untrue.

At the time Saskia Beer said that it was not her intention to mislead consumers, although she accepted responsibility and apologised. She was also ordered to publish a corrective notice on the company’s website and compelled to attend trade practices compliance training.

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