• 22 Nov 2012 12:47 AM | Anonymous

    Consumers flood the ACCC with support for true free range


    Today Humane Society International has delivered a huge blow to the Australian Egg Corporation’s (AEC) plans to take control of the free range egg industry for the bigger players in the industry. 


    Today 30,000 individual postcards have been delivered to the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) in protest of AEC’s planned changes to the way free range eggs are produced.  Consumers have expressed dismay at the Egg Corporation’s exploitation of the industry and have demanded that stocking densities for free range hens be capped at 1,500 per hectare. 


    “Never before have we witnessed consumer outrage on the scale that has been brought before the ACCC over this issue. AEC have underrated their consumer. They have  attempted to take advantage of the consumers limited knowledge of egg production systems and have failed to sell them this lie, a lie that would have seen multi-storey and overcrowded monster production facilities labelled their eggs as free range” said Lee McCosker.


    What makes these cards so important is that they have been distributed in certified free range egg cartons to the very consumers who will be duped if AEC were allowed to brand their intensive systems free range.  The overwhelming response verifies that free range egg buyers believe that 20,000 hens per hectare and systems that restrict or discourage outdoor access do not meet their expectations of free range.


    Humane Society International first alerted the ACCC to concerns about the proposed AEC Egg Standard Australia in March 2011 and lodged a complaint requesting that the Certification Trademark before them be denied. Eighteen months of investigations and interviews resulted in the ACCC issuing its scathing initial assessment that will hopefully spell the demise of any attempts to intensify free range.  In their damning report the ACCC says it believes the Rules may mislead or deceive consumers.


    We are confident that the 30,000 postcards we are sending today will convince the ACCC to deny AEC’s application for a Certification Trademark that would undermine consumer confidence in free range product.


    We would like to be able to say that when this decision becomes final consumers will be able to buy free range eggs with confidence, but unfortunately this is only the first battle.  The supermarkets are waiting in the wings to roll out their own branded free range that will fall far short of consumer expectation and there will be nothing to stop AEC continuing on their deceptive path.  They will still be able to call their high density eggs free range, just without a certification trademark.


    That is why we are urging the Federal Government to take control of this situation.  They need to legislate a national standard for free range that will protect the consumer and the free range farmer.  AEC has demonstrated that it is out of touch with both the consumers and the true free range producers and cannot be trusted.  Every move they have made in this debate has been to increase the profits of the large intensive egg producers, the very agricultural industrialists who sit on the Board of AEC.


    It is time for the Federal Government to take the reins.  Allowing industry to self-regulate has been an absolute disaster.  We will be garnering support for this coming into the next Federal election and will be aiming to present the Prime Minister with over 100,000 personal postcards to help her understand the level of discontent.

    Contact:  Lee McCosker 0412326030

  • 24 Sep 2012 7:24 PM | Anonymous
    Free Range Eggs - Would you like lies with that?

    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. 

    Contact: Lee McCosker - Chief Operating Officer for Humane Choice 
    Phone: 0412 326 030
  • 26 Jul 2012 1:13 AM | Anonymous
     SA Egg Producers Turn Their Backs on Egg Corporation

    Today the Australian Egg Corporation (AECL) convened its Board Forum in Adelaide to an empty room.

    AECL sought attendance by all South Australian egg producers at the forum but the majority of producers have boycotted the meeting.  The greatest number of egg producers in South Australia are free range farmers who wish to send a clear message to the Board of AECL that they have no confidence in AECL’s ability to represent the interests of genuine free range producers.

    “There are 18 free range egg farmers in SA following the guidelines of our Humane Choice Standard or the Model Code of Practice, and have modelled their production systems around stocking densities no higher than 1,500 birds per hectare.  These farms represent the majority of producers for this state,”said Lee McCosker, Chief Operating Officer for Humane Choice and spokesperson for SA producers“These farmers stand to be put out of business by the very organisation that purport to stand beside them should 20,000 hens per hectare become accepted practice and define free range,” continued McCosker.

    AECL are struggling to gain any acceptance for their new egg standard that would allow the massive stocking rate increases.  Producers have shunned them and are embarrassed by AECL’s attempts to scam consumers, and rightly so. The ACCC has put a hold on the AECL Certification Trademark and called for public comment on the new egg standard, and consumers registered their anger and disbelief at the proposal by AECL in vast numbers.

    “Free range producers have offered a very simple solution to this egg labelling dilemma:  simply call it something else. No one is saying they can’t produce eggs under these intensive outdoor systems, just be honest and label accordingly,” said McCosker.

    To learn more about the ACCC call for comment, go to the Humane Choice website:

    Contact: Lee McCosker - Chief Operating Officer for Humane Choice
    Phone: 0412 326 030

  • 09 Jul 2012 12:03 AM | Anonymous

    Consumer CHOICE high jacked for Producer GAIN?


    Last week Australian Egg Corporation launched an attack on consumer advocacy group CHOICE accusing them of misleading consumers about stocking densities for layer hens and claiming that their actions will increase the price of eggs as high as $12.80 per dozen.


    “Simply outrageous claims”, says Lee McCosker Chief Operating Officer for Humane Choice.  “Egg Corporation is very worried about the power the consumer has on the issue of defining free range egg labels and with a reported 1,200 submissions to the ACCC on this very issue, Egg Corp have good reason to worry. The only defence they have left is to attack organisations backing the consumer.”


    Australian Egg Corporation have put all their eggs into one basket and had hoped that their new and erroneous interpretation of the Model Code would go unnoticed.  The Model Code clearly states: “Outdoors for layer hens a maximum of 1,500 birds per hectare.”


    The Model Code is not the only guideline stipulating stocking rates for free range hens.  The Environmental Guidelines for the Australian Egg Industry also requires that free range hens “should not have a stocking density in excess of 1,500 birds/ha.”


    “We believe the egg industry plans to line the pockets of the big players in this industry have been exposed and now they are pulling out all the stops to keep them on track even if that means ignoring what the consumer has to say on this matter”, says McCosker.


    “There is a much simpler solution and one that will preserve the integrity of the free range industry and steer it off this path of destruction.  We need another egg category to define the production systems that Egg Corporation is promoting.  I am sure the money spent defending their current actions could be put to much better use.” suggest McCosker.


  • 02 Jul 2012 11:10 PM | Anonymous

    A Collective Voice For Consumers and Free Range Hens 


    Humane Choice True Free Range would like to thank Voiceless,  Animals Australia and the RSPCA for their unanimous support of our complaint that resulted in the ACCC calling for public comment on the definition of free range eggs.


    The opportunity to express concern or an opinion on the Australian Egg Corporation’s proposal to increase layer hen stocking densities to a massive 20,000 birds per hectare closed yesterday.


    “Until the ACCC stepped into this debate the consumer had been ignored on this issue.  They have now been given a voice and we believe it will be collectively a resounding vote against the AECL proposal.” Said Lee McCosker, Chief Operating Officer of Humane Choice. “We anticipate thousands of responses will be delivered to the ACCC.”


    Humane Choice brought to the attention of the ACCC the inequity of an application by AECL for a Certification Trademark that was currently before them in March last year.


    “We asked the ACCC to reject the application not only because there had not been adequate consultation with all egg producers, but because the consumer stood to be mislead by the term free range if the application were to be successful and stocking rates increased to intensive production levels.” said McCosker.


    Animal welfare groups have worked together to help uphold this complaint and have been effective in distributing the information needed to help consumers have their say on what they expect from a carton of eggs labelled as free range and how they want layer hens to be treated. 

  • 23 May 2012 8:41 PM | Anonymous

    ACCC Calls for Public Comment on 20,000 Hens a Hectare


    Yesterday, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission called for public comment on the proposed Australian Egg Corporations new standard that would allow an increase in stocking density for layer hens to 20,000 birds per hectare.


    Humane Choice first brought this matter to the ACCC’s attention fifteen months ago.


    “When we learned that the Egg Corporation (AECL) had applied for a Certification Trademark we appealed to the ACCC to reject the application because of the unacceptable proposal to increase stocking rates and the lack of consultation with the egg industry.” Said Lee McCosker, Chief Operating Officer for Humane Choice. This did result in putting the AECL plans in a holding pattern and explains why we have not seen the standard released to date, but it also resulted in state wide consultation with producers.”


    AECL has had to revise its application several times with the first submissions not even making reference to the proposed stocking increase even though they had displayed a version of the new standard on the AECL website and informed producers of their intentions.


    “It appears the intention of the AECL was to present a standard to the ACCC that suited the larger industrialized producers while seriously marginalizing the genuine free range farmer.  We can only trust that the ACCC has recognised this and also acknowledged that the consumer will disadvantaged if this standard were to ever make it into the marketplace”.  McCosker said.


    “The AECL Egg Standard is not about distinguishing certified producers by the application of the ESA Mark, it is an attempt to make sweeping changes to the entire egg industry and consumers and true free range farmers will just not tolerate that.”


    You can read all about the ACCC call for comment and how to participate at this link



  • 15 May 2012 7:56 PM | Anonymous

    Is It Free Range?  Ask for PROOF!

    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 where grazed on pasture and 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 as for PROOF.  Humane Choice certification will offer all the proof you need that your eggs are true free range.”  Says McCosker.

  • 26 Apr 2012 8:08 PM | Anonymous

    Truth In Labelling -  Needs Legislating

    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 will encompass 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.


    For more information:


    Phone:  0265627318

  • 04 Apr 2012 9:46 PM | Anonymous

    The Model Code – Stepping through the confusion

    Without any science to justify such a proposal, Australian Egg Corporation (AECL) are promoting a stocking density for free range hens of 20,000 birds per hectare in contravention of our Code of Practice for Animal Welfare.

    AECL has caved to the incredible pressure of big industry players to cash in on the demand for free range and has contrived this very new and erroneous interpretation of the code in an attempt to appease the desires  of their largest levy players.

    Simply, the code states that:

    “For layer hens a maximum stocking density of 1500 birds per hectare.”

    The code does then go on and make allowances for ‘meat birds’ produced under very different conditions to those of layer hens.  Even in doing so however, the code states that any increases must only be proportionately higher than those for layer hens.  When there is an increase, there must be pasture cover and paddock rotations, something just not possible on overstocked land.

    An increase to 20,000 birds is not a proportionate increase in stocking densities.  It is a blatant attempt to snatch the market for industrialized producers and marginalize those farmers that have modelled their production systems around the code and kept stocking densities at acceptable and sustainable levels of 1500 birds per hectare.

    The stocking densities proposed by AECL would amount to chicken feedlots - an environmental disaster and disillusioned consumers.  AECL are on a path that will degrade the idiom free range and make it nothing more than a supermarket term.

    The reality is that if egg production needs to be increased there are plenty of options to allow that to happen.  Cage free systems or even the development of outdoor systems with sound environmental controls will cover that need more than adequately.  There is no justification however for calling these systems free range.

  • 25 Mar 2012 7:00 PM | Anonymous

    Media Release

    Inconclusive Study Proves Stress in Intensive Farming


    A study by Dr Jeff Downing has proven beyond doubt that intensive farming practices in the egg industry, whether they be caged, barn or ‘free range’, will ultimately result in stressed birds.


    Conversely, this study is seriously flawed and the glaring omission of true free range production systems from Dr Downing’s research points to an industry contrived outcome.


    However, Dr Downing cannot be held accountable for this inconclusive study as the producers taking part in this research were supplied by Australian Egg Corporation who has once again ignored the small producer farming eggs in true free range fashion on open pastures.


    “We are suggesting that if any of our true free range producers had been included in this study there would have been a very different outcome.” Said  Lee McCosker, Chief Operating Officer for Humane Choice.


    What this study does point to is that we cannot have any faith in eggs labelled as free range until we have an enforceable definition.  The five ‘free range’ farms that took part in this study had very large flock sizes, extremely high stocking densities with high mortality rates and clearly just as stressed as caged birds casting even more doubt on the free range claims made on supermarket eggs.


    Last week Humane Choice represented our true free range producers as a member of the Egg Labelling Forum facilitated by the NSW Food Authority on behalf of the NSW Minister of Agriculture, Katrina Hodgkinson.

    The scope of discussion is Truth in Labelling but animal welfare, the environment and food safety or production systems are not within the scope of this discussion. 


    Until we have a legal definition for free range we will never have truth in labelling.


     Contact:  Lee McCosker  0412326030

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