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27th April - Consumers duped with new free range egg standard      



27 April 2017

Animal protection charity Humane Society International (HSI) warns consumers the Australian Government’s new standard for free range eggs cannot be trusted.

After years of industry mis-labelling and deception, and cases brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Australian Government has intervened with a regulation to set an Australian standard for free range at a shocking 10,000 hens per hectare.  In a huge blow to consumers the standard allows industrial egg farmers to label products from intensive systems as free range. This means consumers who want to do the right thing by the hens that lay their eggs cannot trust the new label and confusion will continue.                                                              

“The industrial egg industry and big retailers have won and consumers and hens have lost out,” said Nicola Beynon, Head of Campaigns for HSI.

“The Australian Government has colluded with the industrial egg industry over a new standard for free range eggs which falls far short of consumer expectations for genuine free range egg production.

“It is also in stark contrast with international standards for free range. The RSPCA recommends 1,500 hens per hectare for fixed free range systems and 2,500 hens per hectare is normally the highest density in a free range system anywhere in the world. The Australian Government’s new standard of a staggering 10,000 hens per hectare surely takes the record as the most out of touch with consumer expectations,” said Ms Beynon.

In all the surveys and submissions 95% of consumers have supported a free range stocking density of no more than 1,500 hens per hectare.

Not only does this let down the hens and ethical consumers, it also lets down the genuine free range egg industry. Australia’s true free range egg producers have set up their businesses under the 1,500 hens per hectare standard recommended in Australia’s Model Code of Practice for Poultry which has been in place since 2002. This new standard will undercut their efforts to provide a genuine free range egg to the market.           

“The Government has put the interests of big business before small free range businesses, animal welfare and consumers,” concluded Ms Beynon.

Humane Society International recommends consumers who want higher welfare look for a maximum 1,500 hens per hectare stocking density and not be fooled by free range labels at higher densities. To find out where you can buy true free range eggs, visit: http://www.humanechoice.com.au/shop_humane_choice


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