Why shaming Saskia Beer is not enough
On the 16th June, 2014 the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) disclosed that Saskia Beer’s 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.
It was not black, it was not Berkshire and it was not free range.
What makes this particularly offensive is that Saskia Beer has used her celebrity standing in the industry to appeal to and take advantage of the ethical shopper. If the result was only to bring disgrace to her personally then that would be fair play, but this has undermined confidence in a market that has finally struggled to gain acceptance.
The pioneering farmers who have worked for decades to create a desire for high animal welfare product have not only had their markets eaten into by Saskia’s bogus free range pork, but now also find themselves having to repair consumer confidence.
Last week when we reported on the ACCC ruling we were contacted by Ms Beer’s legal representatives and threatened with Federal Court action if we did not remove all mention. Fortunately this is well documented and we are certainly not going to bow to these heavy handed tactics. This was a shocking misuse of celebrity influence and deserves to be aired.
While we are happy that the ACCC has exposed this rort, we are very disappointed that no real penalty was given. Sullied
This case equates to the cop who gets caught robbing a bank - we expect them to be judged more severely because of their position of influence. It is very disappointing that she has got off with a slap on the wrist. This has been an expensive exercise for the taxpayer and anyone involved in the case and Beer should have had to pay her share.
“This case reinforces the need for third party certification when a premium is being charged for free range produce. There needs to be nationally legislated free range standards to protect consumers and true free range producers,” Verna Simpson, Director of Humane Society International said. “We are currently expected to take the word of major suppliers and supermarkets for their welfare labelled product but there is no obligation to divulge their producers, or even the standards they are producing to.”
“If Saskia Beer is happy to dupe her customers how can consumers have confidence in ethically labelled food without the added layer of independent audits,” Ms Simpson concluded.