Australian seafood company, Kailis Bros Pty Ltd (Kailis Bros) has paid a penalty of $10,800, following the issue of an infringement notice by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
The ACCC issued the infringement notice because it had reasonable grounds to believe that Kailis Bros had engaged in conduct likely to mislead the public about the manufacturing process used to produce its frozen ‘Just Caught Prawn Meat’, in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
The packaging of the Kailis Bros’ Prawns contained a prominent image of the Australian flag as the backdrop on the front and back of the packet; a map of Australia in the bottom right hand corner on the front of the packet with the words ‘Australian Caught Raw Prawns’ printed in a circle around the map; and the words ‘Australian Caught – Raw – Deveined – Tail Off – Prawn Meat’ on the packet.
The ACCC considered that this represented to consumers that the prawns were caught, processed and packaged in Australia, when this was not the case.
The prawns were packed and processed in Thailand. This was included in fine print on the back of the packaging. The prawns were primarily supplied nationally through Woolworths supermarkets.
“The ACCC believed that the images and statements on this product gave the misleading impression that it was packed and processed in Australia,” Rod Sims, chairman, ACCC said.
“Consumers are often prepared to pay a premium for Australian made products, so any ‘Australian made’ representations must be accurate. Businesses cannot rely on fine print disclaimers to correct or qualify a prominent country of origin representation that is false or misleading,” Sims said.
The payment of a penalty specified in an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the ACL. The ACCC can issue an infringement notice where it has reasonable grounds to believe that a person has contravened certain consumer protection laws.