Humane Society International (HSI) has exposed the Australian Egg Corporation's (AECL) plan to mislead free range egg buyers with their erroneous interpretation of the Model Code of Practice for Animal Welfare.
Claims by AECL that the code allows for unlimited numbers of hens on the range are nothing more than an attempt to manipulate the wording of the code of practice and deceive the public in the name of profit.
"AECL have promoted their new plans to increase stocking rates to 20,000 birds per hectare as a responsible control measure when in reality it is nothing more than a deceptive undertaking to intensify free range production," said Lee McCosker, Chief Operating Officer for Humane Choice.
HSI has sought a legal interpretation of the Model Code, which has confirmed what they have long known to be true, that the code sets a maximum stocking density for layer hens at 1500 hens per hectare.
"Egg Corporation has attempted to take advantage of the consumers lack of understanding of poultry production systems and that the Model Code applies to both layer and meat birds. When you are aware of this fact it shines a whole new light on the meaning and the intention of the code of practice," continued McCosker.
To ensure consumers have their interest represented, HSI has also sought to enlighten all members of parliament with the truth so that they may better represent their constituents by fully understanding this issue. A copy of the legal advice has been sent to every MP in the country.
HSI has also brought this deception to the attention of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the application currently before them for a Certification Trademark by the AECL is under investigation.
"The consumer has driven the demand for free range and it will be the consumer that decides what defines the term. The ACCC has made sure they have been given a voice on this issue," concluded McCosker.AECL, the egg industry peak body, will need to come up with another term for their proposed system and call it something that consumers and genuine free range farmers will accept.