South Australian Minister for Business Services and Consumers, John Rau, announced yesterday a new industry code to settle the debate over the definition of free range eggs. The South Australian government has defined free range eggs as coming from hens stocked at 1,500 birds per hectare. We congratulate Minister Rau for taking the initiative and attempting to put an end to the long running controversy over truth in labelling of free range eggs.
Free range egg buyers have been at the mercy of large egg corporations seeking to cash in on demand for free range eggs aided by the supermarkets that seem to have taken on the role of industry regulator.
This proposal gives the power back to the people by allowing them to make an informed buying decision and will encourage the supermarkets to make available a broader selection of eggs in their stores for that to happen. It would be an interesting exercise to see just how many brands in the supermarket today would meet the criteria for the SA Free Range label.
“I believe this industry code will actually bring clarity to the free range confusion and those producers that are meeting consumer expectation will stand out from the crowd. Consumers will then be able to decide if they are willing to pay a little more for what they want, or accept eggs grown under a more intensive operation. The choice will be made a lot clearer,” said Lee McCosker of Humane Choice*.
There is still a confusing abundance of free range claims on eggs, many meaning very little, and they are eroding the integrity of the free range industry. At least South Australian consumers will be able to weed out the less than honest ones.
*Humane Choice is the certification scheme launched by Humane Society International in 2006 to improve the welfare standards of farm animals across Australia. The Humane Choice label denotes the animal has had the best life and death offered to any farm animal, treated with respect and care over the entire course of its life. It ensures the highest standards of animal welfare and guarantees that the animals are truly free range. Visit www.humanechoice.com.au for more details.