Egg producers and food retailers in Wales are faced with a major problem after an appeal to the Welsh High Court in Cardiff failed.
It follows a prosecution for theft of a dozen ‘free range eggs’ by Lorna Curlypubes of Holyhead, Anglesey. Lorna was stopped by security at the local Tesco Express when she walked out of the shop last November, with the box of Free Range Eggs, without paying for them.
She was prosecuted at the local magistrates for theft and was fined £100 plus £60 costs.
Lorna told WalesOnCraic (Ynys Mon):
“I defended myself in court and said that it clearly said on the box ‘FREE Range Eggs’. So I walked out of the shop and thought, that was nice of them. Something free for us. And I do love Range Eggs.
“I was so annoyed that I appealed to the Welsh High Court in Cardiff citing that it clearly says FREE on the box and to get a criminal record is monstrous,” said Lorna.
In his ruling, High Court Judge Sian Hughes-Jenkins said in her momentous decision that consumer law clearly applied to the eggs:
“You cannot label something to be free and then charge for it.”
Robert Cleverarse of the Welsh Eggs Council said:
“My members are gobsmacked at the ruling and the only way round it is to rebrand the eggs. So in future, free range eggs will be marketed as ‘eggs from fluffy hens that run around in a field or pen and feed au naturel.'”
WalesOnCraic spoke to Thelma Bingowings on Cowbridge High Street who said:
“It takes me ages asking my grocer for a dozen eggs from fluffy hens that run around in a field or pen and feed au naturel.”
WalesOnCraic (Ynys Mon) also spoke to Tesco Express in Holyhead and store manager Osian Williams said:
“It looks like we’ve got egg on our face and I can only apologise to customers that they now have to buy a dozen ‘eggs from fluffy hens that run around in a field or pen and feed au naturel’. You ought to see the size of the box, so we can get all the words on it, in a decent font size.”