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Christchurch fish & chip shop in hot oil

Media Release

Issued 17 May 2002/ 54

Christchurch fish & chip shop in hot oil

A Christchurch fish & chip shop has come under Commerce Commission scrutiny for falsely claiming its food is cooked in cholesterol-free oil. Huntsbury Seafoods has admitted breaching section 10 of the Fair Trading Act in a signed settlement with the Commission.

The Commission investigated an allegation that Huntsbury Seafoods was cooking its food in edible beef tallow while displaying a sign "We cook in non-cholesterol oil".

Edible beef tallow contains 50% saturated fats and therefore contains cholesterol.

As part of the settlement with the Commission, Huntsbury Seafoods has now removed the misleading sign.

"This type of misleading practice is unfair on both customers and competing businesses alike," said Deborah Battell, Director of Fair Trading at the Commerce Commission.

"Some customers will seek out fish & chip shops that deep-fry their food using alternatives to animal fat, and become repeat customers based solely on that. It is not always easy for these customers to know whether their preferred fish & chip shop is using the deep-frying products they claim, so it is important they can rely on the trader's claims."

Ms Battell added, "Huntsbury Seafoods may also have attracted customers because of its non-cholesterol oil claim and the false advertising could have given it an unfair advantage over its fat-frying competitors.

"We are keeping an eye on this industry and will not hesitate to prosecute the next trader we find that has misled customers in this way.

"This is also a strong reminder to all traders, no matter how big or small, that the Commerce Commission will take action if customers are being misled."

Background

Section 10 of the Fair Trading Act 1986 states:

Misleading conduct in relation to goods -

No person shall, in trade, engage in conduct that is liable to mislead the public as to the nature, characteristics, suitability for a purpose, or quantity of goods.

Huntsbury Foods has been under its current ownership for six years. It changed its deep frying practices approximately one year ago, when it began using animal fat rather than "non-cholesterol oil".

ENDS

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