Former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett has welcomed a Federal Court order forcing Coles to display notices informing consumers it broke Australian consumer law.
In June this year Coles was found to have broken three sections of consumer law for falsely advertising bread products as being freshly made and baked on the same day when this was not the case.
Only some of the products offered for sale were freshly baked while others had been made overseas in Denmark, Germany and Ireland before being frozen and sent to Australia.
Former Victorian Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett sparked the debate after discovering his bread and muffin products were made in Ireland and informed the ACCC.
Today, Federal Court Chief Justice James Allsop ordered that Coles display “in a prominent location” on its counters a corrective notice informing potential customers that it breached Australian consumer law.
The notice informs consumers that Coles engaged in “false, misleading and deceptive representations”. Coles has also been banned for a period of three years from promoting products as being baked on the same day when this is not the case.
Mr Kennett said he was glad the court found his complaint was not frivolous and hoped it would send to a message to other merchants and retailers engaged in deceptive product branding.
“I know from the day I raised the issue and submitted the case to the ACCC, Coles started to review the way it promoted its goods. And I know that from someone who used to work at Coles and now works at another company I’m associated with,” he told Dynamic Business.
“I therefore hope that this will send a shot across the bows of everyone who markets goods and services, that the public are entitled to receive factual information.”
Coles may still be fined for its conduct and faces a potential penalty of more than $3 million with further orders to be issued on a future date. Mr Kennett said whether Coles was fined or not would be a question for others.