A federal court in Australia has determined that processors advertising their chickens as “free to roam” on packaging and in advertisements and publications were liable to mislead the public as to the nature and characteristics of the product. Australian Competition & Consumer Comm’n v. Turi Foods Pty. Ltd., (No. 4) [2013] FCA 665 (Fed. Ct. of Austl., decided July 8, 2013).

The court’s opinion details the efforts undertaken to determine stocking densities at various stages of a chicken’s development and includes the results of site visits by the court, support staff and the parties’ legal representatives.

At certain times in their development, according to the court, thousands of chickens live in such close proximity in the sheds that “very little, if any, of the floor surface could be seen.” Thus, the court ruled that the “impugned statements . . . were apt to mislead and deceive and were false insofar as they were made in respect of chickens in barns up to or shortly before the 42nd day of their growth cycle.” The court ordered the parties to confer to “agree on the terms of declaration which reflect the findings recorded in these reasons.”