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The companies were "likely to have made misleading representations about chicken size by including stuffing and marinade in the weight of chickens" by specifying a weight range for a stuffed and marinated chicken while the weight of the chicken itself was lower, the regulator said.
"In our view, consumers were likely to believe the size prominently displayed on the chicken was a representation about the weight of the chicken itself without stuffing and marinade," Commissioner Anna Rawlings said. "This was not the case and even though the net weight was displayed in small font underneath the chicken size, we do not believe this was sufficient to correct the overall impression given."
Following the investigation, industry body Poultry Industry Association of New Zealand (PIANZ) reviewed its labelling standards for fresh whole chickens and changed its approach to sizing. Inghams and Tegel have said they will change their packaging so that the size indicated will be the net weight of the chicken, excluding marinade or stuffing, in line with the new PIANZ approach.
The commission has issued letters of warning to both companies and will not be taking further action at this time, it said.