Food and Grocery Code of Conduct Review

The Food and Grocery Code is the first prescribed voluntary code under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) regulating the conduct of supermarket retailers and wholesalers who have agreed to be bound by the code. A draft report released on 2 July details 14 draft recommendations made by the review. The key draft recommendations focus on expanding the scope of the code to ensure that all significant wholesalers and retailers are bound by the code with the aim to create cultural change within the grocery industry and an enhanced focus on the role of the code compliance manager to …

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Changes to therapeutic goods advertising in Australia

From 1 January 2019, businesses marketing and advertising therapeutic goods (medicines and medical devices) must comply with new requirements under the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code 2018 (2018 Code). In addition to general requirements under the Australian Consumer Law with respect to false, misleading and deceptive claims, the 2018 Code specifically regulates the types and content of representations that can be made about therapeutic goods.  Notably, this includes everyday items such as sunscreen. Key changes under the 2018 Code include: definitions – a broader definition of “advertise” which captures any materials intended to promote the use or supply of therapeutic goods; …

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Country of origin food labelling has commenced!

From 1 July 2018, it became mandatory for businesses to ensure that food offered for retail sale in Australia is labelled in accordance with the Country of Origin Food Labelling Information Standard (the Standard). The Standard is aimed at providing consumers with greater certainty for where food is made, produced and grown when making purchasing decisions. For more information on the requirements of the Standard, see our previous update here. To monitor compliance, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), in conjunction with the National Measurement Institute, will be conducting market surveillance checks on approximately 10,000 food products, with a …

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Sexual appeal advertising: Code of ethics amendments

Effective from 1 March 2018, the Advertising Standards Bureau now accepts complaints under the amended section 2.2 of the Australian Association of National Advertisers’ Code of Ethics (the Code), which prevents advertising that uses sex appeal from being exploitative or degrading. The amended section 2.2 provides that advertising or marketing communications shall not employ sexual appeal: where images of minors or people who appear to be minors are used; or in a manner which is exploitative or degrading of any individual or group of people. The definition of exploitation has also been updated to mean ‘taking advantage of the sexual appearance …

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Targeted: Organic claims

The ACCC has indicated that it is currently targeting businesses for making false or misleading ‘organic’ claims about their products. With a number of infringement notices issued as part of the investigations, it is a timely reminder for businesses to ensure that any product claims such as ‘organic’, ‘100% organic’ or ‘made using organic ingredients’ are true and can be substantiated. Similarly, any products labelled as ‘certified organic’ should have undergone a certification process.Whilst there is no mandatory requirement for products to meet any ‘organic’ standards or undergo a certification process, businesses can voluntarily: ensure that their products meet Australian …

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The car retail market and consumer guarantees

Car manufacturers are facing mounting pressure to comply with their obligations under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), particularly in relation to directing customers to warranties in place of consumer guarantees. Often consumers are unaware that under the ACL they have automatic rights to refunds and repairs, regardless of what the warranty covers. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has become increasingly concerned that car manufacturer’s policies fail to adequately account for consumer entitlements under the ACL. In December 2017, the ACCC published its report, New Car Retailing Industry: A market study, indicating that an alarming amount (20%) of complaints …

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Gift cards – new requirements

Since 31 March this year, new requirements have been in place that are relevant for certain gift cards sold in NSW or to consumers who provide an address based in NSW (the requirements also catch gift cards sold online). Certain gift cards and vouchers are excluded from the requirements including those given for free, in place of exchanged goods, loyalty cards, promotional cards/vouchers for use within a specified time frame and prepaid cards amongst others. The key changes: require most gift cards sold in NSW to have at least a minimum 3 year expiry date from the date of sale; …

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The new General Data Protection Regulation is here!

Last week the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force and for a short period of time was allegedly Google’d more than Beyonce that day! The requirements under the GDPR are important for organisations to consider, particularly where they may collect personal data (including for marketing purposes or in e-commerce). Under the GDPR, any companies outside the European Union who use or collect personal data of individuals in the EU are subject to the requirements of the GDPR. This includes any data set which can directly or indirectly identify or single out an individual. The enhanced compliance obligations …

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Social Media Marketing and Advertising Update: What’s in a tag?

New features on Instagram now allow businesses to post about their products with tags that embed pricing information, product feature descriptions and website links. Whilst this will allow the platform to play a larger role in direct product marketing, the changes are a timely reminder for businesses to review their social media practices for compliance with the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). Direct Advertising To the extent representations made in embedded tagging on social media platforms are broader than they otherwise would be, there is a risk such representations would be considered misleading and deceptive. Accordingly, businesses should ensure that all …

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Proposed changes to the Australian Consumer Law: Exposure draft released

Off the back of recommendations contained in the 2017 Australian Consumer Law Review Report, an exposure draft of proposed changes to the Australian Consumer Law has been released for public consultation. The proposed changes include amendment of: Display Price Requirements section 48(7) to exempt vendors from the requirement to display a single total price that includes all optional fees and charges where: (a) the charge is payable at the option of the consumer; and (b) at, or before the time of the representation, the charge has been deselected or the consumer has not expressly requested that the charge be applied. …

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Eggcellent news for consumers! New national standard for free range eggs

Australian consumers increasingly choose to buy ‘free range’ eggs in support of animal welfare (despite paying higher prices). However the task of determining whether eggs are truly free range has become a rising concern for consumers. Only last year, a major egg producer in the Australian market was penalised $1 million AUD after contravening Australian Consumer Law (ACL) by falsely labelling their eggs as free range, when it was found that the sheds were overstocked and the hens did not get to roam outside. The uncertainty for consumers lies not only in trusting the accuracy of egg carton labels but …

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Country of origin labelling update

Businesses have until 1 July 2018 to ensure their labels that are affixed to food items comply with the Country of Origin Food Labelling Information Standard (the Standard) which commenced on 1 July 2016. The requirements under the Standard apply to food offered for retail in Australia (i.e. food sold in stores, markets, online or from a vending machine). The Standard does not apply to food sold to the public for immediate consumption (i.e by a restaurant, a canteen, a school, a caterer or self-catering institution, a prison, a hospital or a medical institution, a fundraising event etc) or not …

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