Fresh Baked bread: Baked today doesn’t
mean fresh today!
Enter a large Woolworths or Coles Supermarket, walk past
the fresh fruit, the fresh cut flowers and you will come to
the in-store bakery.
Before September this year, there were signs at Coles -
We bake fresh 7 days a week
Visit the Coles Bakery today and you will notice the
signs have gone. What is the story?
Fresh as in fresh food is becoming a key
marketing battleground for supermarkets.
Woolworths have used the slogan - The Fresh Food People -
for years. Coles decided to match this slogan and put up
signs with 'Freshly Baked' and labels with 'Baked Today,
Sold Today' and 'Freshly Baked In-Store' in the racks where
bread, cakes and pastries were displayed for sale.
So what is fresh? If you ask the staff at the in-store
bakery “Is it fresh?” they reply "It arrived here ready to
bake so you get it fresh!" This raises the question –
What arrived at the store?
Was it flour, water, yeast and salt, to make bread from
scratch, which was then mixed, proved and baked? Or was it
pre-mixed frozen dough, which was proved, moulded and baked
in-store? Or was it pre-baked (par-baked) frozen product,
which was thawed and re-baked in store?
If it is par-baked product which was re-baked in store,
is it wrong to call the bread fresh baked?
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (the
ACCC) is the consumer watchdog which enforces fair trading
standards in Australia. It will prosecute companies and
people who display misleading signs, labels and packaging.
In June 2013, the ACCC took legal proceedings against
Coles Supermarkets for breach of the Australian Consumer
Law. The ACCC alleged that because the bread on display in
the racks with the sign ‘Freshly Baked’ was a mix of breads
- some baked from scratch, some baked from fresh dough, and
some baked from frozen par-baked product, then the sign was
false and misleading. Specifically, the par-baked bread
could not be called fresh baked.
In June 2014, the Federal Court agreed with the ACCC that
bread baked from frozen par-baked products sourced from as
far away as Ireland could not be described as
freshly baked, nor as freshly baked in-store.
As a result, in September 2014, the Federal Court banned
Coles for 3 years from advertising the sale of par-baked
bread in this way. Coles has removed its ‘We bake fresh 7
days a week’ signs from its stores. Coles was ordered to
display a Notice headed 'An important message from Coles
Supermarkets Australia Pty Ltd' at all point of sale
counters in its in-store bakeries for 90 days.
You will see in the ‘After’ photo the blank space on the
wall where the sign used to be, and the Notice on top of the
rack display. Check it out next time you visit Coles.
And worse is to come for Coles. The Federal Court will
hold a special hearing to determine the penalty Coles must
pay for breaching the Australian Consumer Law. Some idea of
how much the penalty might be is the penalty of $300,000
ordered by the Federal Court for misleadingly labelling
chicken meat packaging. The label stated the chickens were
‘free to roam in large barns’ when in fact they ‘could not
move more than a metre or so (at most) without having their
further movement obstructed by a barrier of clustered
What other produce could the ACCC pursue for being
misleadingly labelled as ‘fresh’? Apples, bananas and other
fruit which are sold as ‘fresh’ even though they have been
kept in cold storage for up to a year? Prawns and fish sold
as ‘fresh’ which have been frozen?
Beer bottle labels: Where was the beer
Labels on beer bottles and beer cans must show the
place where the beer was brewed by law. But what if the
name of the beer is a place name – such as Byron Bay
Lager? Is it misleading to the public to emphasise the
brand name in big print on the front label, while playing
down the place where it was brewed elsewhere in the small
print on the back label?
Carlton and United Breweries brew a beer called Byron Bay
Pale Lager. The labels on the bottle show a strong
connection with Byron Bay – the name, the map, the
lighthouse and the description: We’re housed in a historic
location, a birthplace of much of the fame and spirit of
Does it matter that the beer was brewed in Warnervale on
the NSW Central Coast (630 kms south of Byron Bay)?
The ACCC alleged that it does matter - the labels were
false and misleading because they gave the beer drinking
public the impression that the beer was brewed by a small
brewery at Byron Bay.
CUB decided, for commercial reasons, to not fight the
ACCC’s allegations in court. They provided the ACCC with an
undertaking to not make the false or misleading
representations as to the where the beer was made. CUB also
paid two infringement notices of $20,400 and published
August 2010 – Click on the Property Law tab to find
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