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  • 21 May 2012 12:43 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Humane Society International praises Tasmania’s move to make battery hen farming history as well as fast-tracking the phasing out of sow stalls for pigs in response to increased demand for ethical produce.  Being the first Australian state to make this move, Tasmania is making history and is moving towards becoming ‘the humane state of Australia’, leaving the others well behind.  The European Union recently celebrated a similar victory, making battery cages illegal at the beginning of 2012, sparing the welfare of at least 300 million hens from these inhumane living conditions.

    The battery cage typically holds four or five hens with floor space per bird less than an A4 sheet of paper, preventing them from spreading their wings or displaying the most basic natural behaviours.  Poor ventilation, low light levels, and often being forced to stand on a sloping wire mesh floor, only adds to the extreme physical and psychological stress these animals endure.  Sow stalls are equally inhumane, confining a pregnant sow to such an extent that she is unable to turn around.  Many consumers have responded by attempting to choose free range eggs and pork, favouring the ethical alternatives, however, this can be a challenging task with no labelling laws in Australia to distinguish the true free range products.

    “As there are no laws in place in Australia to enforce clear labelling of ethically produced meat and eggs, the rights of consumers and small producers are sacrificed because humane products are so difficult to identify,” says Verna Simpson, HSI Director“If the Australian Government refuses to improve labelling laws and instead continues to allow for consumers to be misled, then Tasmania could secure a major proportion of the emerging market for ethical produce.”

    The move towards ethical farming methods by both Tasmania and the EU only highlights an even greater need for the remaining Australian states to follow suit and step up, following their example.  The $2.5 million initiative puts Tasmania at the forefront of animal welfare standards.  They are placing an immediate ban on future battery hen operations and capping existing hen stock during the transition.  They have also committed to phase out sow stalls by mid-2013, well before the industry’s target of 2017.  Again, Australia falls well behind given that sow stalls were banned over a decade ago in countries such as the UK.

    Although HSI will continue to work towards the legislation of truth in labelling for ethical produce so consumers are no longer misled and small producers are protected, we have today written to Tasmanian Primaries Industry Minister Bryan Green requesting a meeting to discuss the potential for Tasmania to become ‘the Humane State’.

  • 16 May 2012 12:46 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Humane Choice has launched a new campaign in a bid to bring some clarity to the free range egg debate.  With Australian Egg Corporation hell bent on commandeering the free range market for its largest members and ignoring the consumer, the genuine true free range egg producers look like being put out of business unless there is some way of telling the intensive eggs from the real deal.

    “There are two things that the industrialized producers will never be able to guarantee consumers and they are that their hens were grazed on pasture, and that they were given plenty of room to move and forage naturally as part of a sustainable farming system.  PROOF is an acronym for ‘Pasture Raised On Open Fields’ and that is exactly what our producers provide,” said Lee McCosker, Chief Operating Officer for Humane Choice. “We are encouraging all free range producers from all livestock systems to get behind this campaign and let the public know that if they are going to purchase free range eggs, chicken, or pork, they must ask for PROOF.”

    Egg Corporation has employed every tactic possible, from scare mongering about having to import eggs to contemptible lies about nonexistent science supporting their proposed increase in stocking densities to 20,000 hens per hectare. There have even been outrageous claims of needing to feed the world with free range eggs and that without an increase in hen stocking rates, prices would increase to over $12 a dozen.  All this is just propaganda to secure the industry for those at the top of the ladder and sitting on the board of Australian Egg Corporation.

    “The consumer is so confused and without a legal definition for free range, they are being taken advantage of and ripped off.  We need to sustain consumer choice and simplify this debate for them.  When buying free range eggs simply ask for PROOF.  Humane Choice certification will offer all the proof you need that your eggs are true free range,” says McCosker.

  • 01 May 2012 6:30 PM | Anonymous
    Australian Egg Corporation Purposely Misrepresents Study for Own Gain

    Australian Egg Corporation (AECL) have based an increase in stocking densities for free range hens to 20,000 per hectare based on a study by the Avian Science Research Centre in Scotland.


    The study, entitled “Behavioural responses to different floor space allowances in small groups of laying hens”, is just that; a study of space allowances for hens kept indoors, not in a free range environment.


    The study does make reference to free range hens but only when it acknowledges that outdoor allowances in the EU is 40,000 cm2 per bird, an equivalent of  2,500 birds per hectare.


    The Scottish Research Centre has confirmed to us that this study relates only to indoor hens and that conclusions about free range stocking densities cannot be drawn from this study without alteration and considerable research on what is acceptable outdoors to back it up.


    What this study does tell us is that we should be reducing indoor stocking densities for Australian flocks from a currently allowable 15 to just 2 birds per square metre.


    Unfortunately we don’t believe that AECL will be as keen to adopt the findings of this study to address stocking densities for intensively housed sheds as this would severely impact on the profits of the large cage and barn producers, the same producers in many instances that are behind the push to increase free range densities.


    This is an embarrassing situation for AECL but signals just what lengths they will go to to secure the free range industry for their larger members without any regard for the consumer, the environment or the true free range farmer.


    AECL have now attempted to reinvent the intent and meaning of not only the Model Code of Practice with their erroneous interpretations, but now they have done the same to science, the very foundation they claim to base the egg industry’s practices on.

  • 27 Apr 2012 12:47 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Animal welfare is intrinsically linked to farming practices and the ethics of the producer. Humane Choice has long been an advocate for farmers that are committed to a whole of farm philosophy where animals are not just viewed as a commodity; they are an integral part of the farm.

    “The intensification of free range production does not fit with our philosophy or consumer expectations,” says Lee McCosker, Chief Operating Officer for Humane Choice. “Our farmers have worked hard to promote a free range alternative and this market has grown substantially over the past 5 years. They are now fighting to hold on to that.  When the industry peak body’s sole motivation is profit, how can we entrust truth in labelling to them that encompasses all our concerns and includes animal welfare, the environment and consumer rights?”

    The Greens NSW have been pushing for a standard definition of free-range eggs and measures to stop unscrupulous producers falsely claiming free range status. Humane Choice supports such a move and encourages anyone that believes in truth in labelling to get behind this Bill and let their local member know that they must be heard on this issue.

    There is a growing movement of ‘back to basics’ farmers that want to produce food, not just a commodity. They want to embrace community, old fashioned human values and farm their livestock and land with respect.  If you would like to learn more, join Lee McCosker on the 7th May at Leichhardt Town Hall where she will speak about the issues important to free range pastured egg producers and consumers alike and what you can do to support them.

  • 23 Apr 2012 10:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    No sunny side with free-range change

    Alexandra Smith

    April 24, 2012

    Scrambled ... Choice and the RSPCA were excluded from formal talks on how free-range eggs should be labelled. 

    SHOPPERS are being kept in the dark over plans for a new definition for the term free-range, the consumer group Choice has warned after it was excluded from formal talks on resolving the dispute over how eggs should be labelled.

    The RSPCA was also not invited to take part in the state government's truth-in-labelling reference group, which will meet for the final time today in an effort to bring an end to the inconsistent terms used on egg cartons in NSW.

    Egg labelling has become a contentious issue after the Australian Egg Corporation, which represents most egg producers, devised a new standard that would allow a free-range egg farm to have as many as 20,000 chickens per hectare.

    Free-range farmers and animal welfare groups are outraged by the new standard, which they say is unethical and will not give consumers any confidence in the free-range industry. The present model code allows 1500 chickens per hectare.

    A spokeswoman for Choice, Ingrid Just, said it made a request to the office of the Minister for Primary Resources, Katrina Hodgkinson, and the NSW Food Authority to take part in the talks as observers but was denied access.

    ''Our main concern is that consumers' voices will not be heard and without any consumer representation at this forum, it will be very hard for the minister to get an idea of what consumers expect when purchasing free-range,'' Ms Just said.

    The RSPCA, which endorses many free-range egg farms and allows them to use the organisation's logo on their packaging, was also excluded from the labelling forum, despite its extensive work in animal welfare.

    ''RSPCA Australia was not invited and is disappointed to have not been included in these discussions,'' an RSPCA spokeswoman said.

    But a spokeswoman for the NSW Food Authority said the labelling forum was convened to facilitate an ''industry-supported resolution to egg labelling challenges''.

    She said major industry representatives were involved in the forum but consumer advocates may become involved in the process ''further down the track, once the scope of the issue has been gauged''.

    The Greens MP John Kaye said the forum was never intended to protect consumers and genuine free-range farmers.

    ''Its membership, timeline and internal processes were carefully crafted to guarantee an ineffective outcome that leaves the big industrial producers unconstrained by a legislated definition of free-range,'' Dr Kaye said.

    Read more: 

  • 17 Apr 2012 10:46 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A New Twist to The Free Range Egg Debate

    A new twist in the free range egg labelling debate. NSW Food Authority to weigh in on truth in labelling.

    The NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, has convened an Egg Labelling Forum to "facilitate industry in resolving its long standing difficulties with egg labelling, in particular the inconsistent use of terms on eggs to which a premium is applied."

    While this sounds promising, dont get too excited because the terms of reference have already been changed and the word 'inconsistent' removed.

    Another glitch is that the Food Authority cannot consider animal welfare, production systems, the environment or consumer rights when considering defining truth in labelling.

    So what is there? What does this mean?

    Food Authority are proposing to endorse Quality Assurance schemes that are displayed on eggs and will keep a register of those that meet their approval.

    Does this mean we can now confidently buy free range eggs?

    No! Nothing could be further from the truth. The Food Authority will endorse any scheme, 20,000 or 100,000 hens per hectare, it doesn't matter as long as you are part of a scheme and follow their rules.

    This means we will then see an array of 'certification' marks and claims of accredited free range flood the supermarket shelves and compound the confusion over free range that already exists. These eggs could be from farms with even lower standards than the Code of Practice for Animal Welfare but as long as they make their standards available it will not be illegal.

    It will be up to the consumer to research each QA scheme and find out what those standards are.

    It seems the path has been cleared for Egg Corporation's new proposal of 20,000 birds per hectare but the scary thing is this could end up being the minimum standard as big producers develop their own QA schemes with much much higher stocking rates.

    Outraged as we are? Let Katrina Hodgkinson know that you will not stand for this and that you want government to support the NSW Egg Labelling Bill and legislation stocking densities for true free range hens at 1,500 per hectare.

    Lee McCosker from Humane Choice is a member of the Egg Labelling Forum and happy to answer any questions here.

    Join Lee on 7th May at 7pm at Leichhardt Town Hall for the launch of the Egg Labelling Bill. See more details here book a place!

  • 08 Mar 2012 10:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    ACCC begins Federal Court proceedings against Rosie's Free Range Eggs

    ·         by: Verity Edwards

    ·         From: The Australian

    ·         March 09, 2012 12:00AM


    FAMILY business Barossa Fine Foods has built its reputation on selling quality meats and smallgoods.

    But it is worried after learning it has been distributing eggs from a company being prosecuted by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission.

    The ACCC announced yesterday that it had begun Federal Court proceedings against Rosie's Free Range Eggs, alleging that "a substantial proportion of the eggs were not free-range but cage eggs".

    The consumer watchdog alleges that between March 2007 and October 2010, Rosemary Bruhn represented that eggs she supplied to 117 retail outlets, including bakeries, cafes and restaurants, were free-range when many were not.

    Ms Bruhn's Eudunda farm is 110km north of Adelaide. Her website and cartons show pictures of chickens in lavender fields.

    She appeared in 2006 on the defunct ABC program The Cook and The Chef.

    The company claims to be audited annually by Southern Eggs. Neither Southern Eggs nor Ms Bruhn returned calls yesterday. Barossa Fine Foods has been selling up to 300 dozen of Rosie's Free Range Eggs weekly for almost a decade at its eight South Australian stores.

    General manager Stephan Knoll said yesterday it was a shock to hear of the ACCC allegations, given his company's long association with Ms Bruhn.

    "We try to look after local businesses, but if she's found to be doing the wrong thing it makes it difficult" to support her, he said. "We'll wait for the findings, but if there's any truth to this we'll consider taking them off the shelves."

    Barossa Fine Foods prided itself on integrity, he said, and an association with any allegedly misleading company would not reflect well on his business.

    "It's not whether they're cage or free-range, it's the truth that we're concerned about."

    Mr Knoll is on the committee of regional body Barossa Food, of which Rosie's Free Range Eggs is also a member.

    He said Barossa Food would reconsider Ms Bruhn's membership if the court found against her.

    A Federal Court directions hearing is listed for March 28.

  • 13 Feb 2012 10:54 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)



    McDonald’s Takes Action Toward Ending Gestation Stall Use; Humane Society of the United States Supports Effort


    (Feb. 13, 2012) undefined McDonald’s Corporation today announced that it will require its U.S. pork suppliers to outline their plans to phase out the use of sow gestation stalls, a move supported by The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

    “McDonald’s believes gestation stalls are not a sustainable production system for the future.  There are alternatives that we think are better for the welfare of sows,” said Dan Gorsky, senior vice president of McDonald’s North America Supply Chain Management. “McDonald’s wants to see the end of sow confinement in gestation stalls in our supply chain. We are beginning an assessment with our U.S. suppliers to determine how to build on the work already underway to reach that goal. In May, after receiving our suppliers’ plans, we’ll share results from the assessment and our next steps.”

    “The HSUS has been a long-time advocate for ending the use of gestation crates, and McDonald’s announcement is important and promising,” said Wayne Pacelle, The HSUS’ president and CEO. “All animals deserve humane treatment, including farm animals, and it’s just wrong to immobilize animals for their whole lives in crates barely larger than their bodies.”

    McDonald’s actions are backed by leading independent animal welfare experts, including renowned scientist Dr. Temple Grandin. “Moving from gestation stalls to better alternatives will improve the welfare of sows and I’m pleased to see McDonald’s working with its suppliers toward that end. It takes a thorough plan to address the training of animal handlers, proper feeding systems, and the significant financial investment and logistics involved with such a big change. I’m optimistic about this announcement,” said Dr. Grandin. 

    Gorsky added, “We are pleased to see a number of our U.S. suppliers adopting commercially-viable alternatives. For example, Smithfield Foods and Cargill have made significant progress in this area. We applaud these, and future, efforts.”


     Media Contacts:

    The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization undefined backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty undefined On the Web

  • 18 Jan 2012 10:57 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Meet Real Free-Range Eggs

    By Cheryl Long and Tabitha Alterman

    Most of the eggs currently sold in supermarkets are nutritionally inferior to eggs produced by hens raised on pasture. That’s the conclusion we have reached following completion of the 2007 Mother Earth News egg testing project. Our testing has found that, compared to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture may contain:

    • 1/3 less cholesterol
    • 1/4 less saturated fat
    • 2/3 more vitamin A
    • 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
    • 3 times more vitamin E
    • 7 times more beta carotene

    These amazing results come from 14 flocks around the country that range freely on pasture or are housed in moveable pens that are rotated frequently to maximize access to fresh pasture and protect the birds from predators. We had six eggs from each of the 14 pastured flocks tested by an accredited laboratory in Portland, Ore. The chart at the end of this article shows the average nutrient content of the samples, compared with the official egg nutrient data from the USDA for “conventional” (i.e. from confined hens) eggs. The chart lists the individual results from each flock.

    The 2007 results are similar to those from 2005, when we tested eggs from four flocks all managed as truly free range. But our tests are not the first to show that pastured eggs are more nutritious undefined see “Mounting Evidence” below for a summary of six studies that all indicated that pastured eggs are richer in nutrients than typical supermarket eggs.

    We think these dramatically differing nutrient levels are most likely the result of the different diets of birds that produce these two types of eggs. True free-range birds eat a chicken’s natural diet undefined all kinds of seeds, green plants, insects and worms, usually along with grain or laying mash. Factory farm birds never even see the outdoors, let alone get to forage for their natural diet. Instead they are fed the cheapest possible mixture of corn, soy and/or cottonseed meals, with all kinds of additives undefined see “The Caged Hen’s Diet” below.

    The conventional egg industry wants very much to deny that free-range/pastured eggs are better than eggs from birds kept in crowded, inhumane indoor conditions. A statement on the American Egg Board’s Web site says “True free-range eggs are those produced by hens raised outdoors or that have daily access to the outdoors.”

    Baloney. They’re trying to duck the issue by incorrectly defining “true free-range.” And the USDA isn’t helping consumers learn the truth, either: “Allowed access to the outside” is how the USDA defines “free-range.” This inadequate definition means that producers can, and do, label their eggs as “free-range” even if all they do is leave little doors open on their giant sheds, regardless of whether the birds ever learn to go outside, and regardless of whether there is good pasture or just bare dirt or concrete outside those doors!

    Both organizations need to come clean. True free-range eggs are those from hens that range outdoors on pasture, which means they can do what’s natural undefined forage for all manner of green plants and insects.

    The Egg Board statement goes on to say: “The nutrient content of eggs is not affected by whether hens are raised free-range or in floor or cage operations.”

    Again, that is hogwash. They think they can simply ignore the growing body of evidence that clearly shows that eggs are superior when the hens are allowed to eat their natural diet. Or maybe they think it’s OK to mislead the public to protect egg producers’ bottom line.

    After we published our first report about the high nutrient levels in pastured eggs, the Egg Nutrition Council questioned our “suggestion” that pastured eggs were better in their Aug. 8, 2005, newsletter:

    “Barring special diets or breeds, egg nutrients are most likely similar for egg-laying hens, no matter how they are raised.” There’s that double-speak, again: “Barring special diets ...” Since when are diets not a part of how chickens are raised? Come on, people, we’ve cited six studies (see "Mounting Evidence", below) showing that pastured eggs are better. The best you can say is “most likely” this evidence is wrong? Cite some science to support your assertions! The U.S. Poultry and Egg Association offers the same misleading statement on its Web site:

    “What are free-range eggs? Free-range eggs are from hens that live outdoors or have access to the outdoors. The nutrient content of eggs from free-range hens is the same as those from hens housed in production facilities with cages.”

    It’s amazing what a group can do with a $20 million annual budget. That’s what factory-farm egg producers pay to fund the AEB each year to convince the public to keep buying their eggs, which we now believe are substandard.

    The Egg Board’s misleading claims about free-range/pastured eggs pervade the Internet, even though the Board has been aware of the evidence about the nutrient differences at least since our 2005 report. We found virtually the same (unsubstantiated) claim denying any difference in nutrient content on Web sites of the American Council on Science and Health (an industry-funded nonprofit), the Iowa Egg Council, the Georgia Egg Commission, the Alberta (Canada) Egg Producers, Hormel Foods, CalMaine Foods and NuCal Foods (“the largest distributor of shell eggs in the Western United States”).

    But the most ridiculous online comments turned up at, a site maintained by a “food trends consultant.” It says:

    “FREE RANGE: Probably the most misunderstood of all claims, it’s important to note that hens basically stay near their food, water and nests, and the idea of a happy-go-lucky bird scampering across a field is far from the natural way of life. The claim only means that the hens have access to the outdoors, not that they avail themselves of the opportunity. The hens produce fewer eggs so they are more expensive; higher product costs add to the price of the eggs. The nutrient content is the same as other eggs.”

    If you’ve ever been around chickens, you know that whoever wrote that hasn’t. Chickens will spend almost their entire day ranging around a property scratching and searching for food. Even as tiny chicks, they are naturally curious and will begin eating grass and pecking curiously at any insects or even specks on the walls of their brooder box. “Scampering across a field,” looking for food, is precisely their natural way of life.

    Supermarket Guru did get one thing right, though. Free-range/pastured eggs are likely to be more expensive because production costs are higher. As usual, you get what you pay for. If you buy the cheapest supermarket eggs, you are not only missing out on the valuable nutrients eggs should and can contain, you are also supporting an industrial production system that treats animals cruelly and makes more sustainable, small-scale egg production difficult.

    You can raise pastured chickens easily right in your back yard undefined see our recent articles about how to do it here. Or you can find pastured eggs at local farmstands and farmers markets, or sometimes at the supermarket. Tell the store manager you want eggs from pastured hens, and encourage the manager to contact local producers. To find pastured producers near you, check out Where to Buy

  • 11 Jan 2012 11:02 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In what can only be described as in a haze of hysteria, Australian Egg Corporation has printed an article in their latest Newsletter prophesying the 'end of civilization as we know it' should we spurn their propaganda on the labelling of free range eggs.

    Humane Choice brings a reasoned response to the article.

    High Politics and Low Blows - A Rebuttal
    Australian Egg Corp Progegganda

    Lee McCosker gives a Humane Choice perspective on the Australian Egg Corp article entitled 'High Politics and Low Blows in NSW' by Kai Ianssen.  Read the article here ....

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