• 23 Mar 2012 6:49 PM | Anonymous
    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 purpose of the Forum is to attempt to resolve long standing difficulties with egg labelling, in particular the inconsistent use of terms on eggs to which a premium is applied.

    The forum is to provide advice to the Minister to determine whether a non-regulatory approached is feasible.

    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.

  • 11 Jan 2012 3:37 PM | Anonymous
    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 ....

  • 08 Jan 2012 10:24 PM | Anonymous

    Humane Choice has expressed its concerns to the ACCC about the potential to mislead consumers with the labelling on Primo pork products as ‘RSPCA Free Range.'

    The labelling of the pork product, available in Woolworths supermarkets, could lead consumers to believe that the Primo pork is actually an ‘RSPCA Free Range’ product, or at the very least, that the brand is endorsed as free range by the RSPCA.

    The RSPCA does not accredit free range pork farms, so labelling any product as ‘RSPCA Free Range’ is deceptive.

    The RSPCA Paw of Approval and logo can be applied to indoor, outdoor or combination systems and the consumer has no way of knowing which is which.

    The RSPCA has a commercial arrangement with brands that carry their trademark but the RSPCA refuses to endorse small scale producers farming pigs under genuine free range conditions because they have deemed them ‘not commercially large enough.’

    “We would like to see the RSPCA take control of the use of their trademark.  The RSPCA is a respected organisation and it would be awful to see it used to erroneously influence consumer buying decisions,” says Humane Choice Chief Operating Officer, Lee McCosker.  “The RSPCA charges 2% of sales to be licensed to use their logos.  There is a huge commercial advantage for producers who use the Paw of Approval logo and RSPCA needs to take ownership of that.”

    The RSPCA standards allow for massive stocking densities in their accredited pork program with an average Babe size pig (around 35kg) only needing 0.51 sq metres of space outdoors.  That equates to nearly 20,000 pigs per hectare and would not meet most consumers’ perceptions of what free range means.

    Humane Choice standards encompass animal, environmental and human health and promote a system of farming that is sustainable in the long term.  Humane Choice promotes realistic stocking densities, land and pasture management and does not allow for pigs to simply being put outdoors to be labelled free range.

    “Animal welfare is not for sale. The consumer has an expectation of what free range means and will not tolerate being conned,” says McCosker.

    Update:  Primo have now made changes to this label.  Label as it appeared 19/1/12


    Contact: Lee McCosker - Chief Operating Officer for Humane Choice
    0412 326 030 / (02) 6562 7318
  • 22 Nov 2011 12:06 AM | Anonymous

    Long serving Board Member of Australian Pork Limited (APL), Mr Neil Ferguson, will stand trial for animal cruelty on the 25th of this month in Perth.

    Ten charges of cruelty to pigs have been laid against Mr Ferguson and many other charges against members of his staff at Westpork Ltd.

    This is the second time that Mr Ferguson has appeared before the courts on charges of cruelty yet requests for Mr Ferguson to be removed from the Board of APL, Australia’s peak industry body for pork producers have been dismissed.

    Concerns are mounting that a recent reshuffle of the states Animal Welfare Legislation administration will allow the Westpork cruelty matters  to dissipate while Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) struggle to get themselves prepared to for the looming trial date.

    “We are concerned that the change in administration from Local Government to DAFWA will mean that this matter will not be given the full attention that it needs.  If DAFWA fumble because they lack preparedness, Mr Ferguson could walk free on a technicality for a second time.  Our inquiries so far have given cause for concern.” Says Lee McCosker, Chief Operating Officer of Humane Choice.  “Our calls to the Department in the lead up to Friday’s case indicate they are confused about Friday’s matter and were unsure if it was even a trial date.   The Department state that they are committed to monitoring welfare and enforcing the Act so we certainly hope that they stand by that statement and ensure their staff are fully engaged for this trial.”

    DAFWA does have a role to play in protecting animals from cruelty.  Lets hope they are on the ball for this one.


    Further information:  Lee McCosker 0412326030


    Mr Ferguson is currently listed on the Australia Pork Limited website as a Board Member.

    Mr Ferguson is currently Chairperson of WA Agriculture Produce Commission Pork Producers Committee and is appointed to this position until 2014.

    The Pork Producers Committee funds WAPPA (West Australian Pork Producers Association) and their pork industry training.

    Ferguson faced court in June 2010 but the matter was withdrawn because of a technical legal difficulty.

    The fresh charges against Ferguson were heard on 15th August and Ferguson is ordered to stand trial on 25th November 2011.

    Director of Australian Pork Limited charged with cruelty to pigs

    30 May 2009 4:51 PM |
    Director of Australian Pork Limited, Neil Ferguson, has been charged with being cruel to an animal, namely a pig, which suffered harm that could have been alleviated by the taking of reasonable steps under section 19(1) and 19(3)(h) of the Animal Welfare Act 2002.

    Ferguson also chairs the WA Agriculture Produce Commission (Pork Committee) and is on the Committee of Pork Training WA.

    Westpork piggery, managed by Ferguson, was raided by police two years ago amid claims that some pigs at the facility had eaten others which had died in the pens has been charged with animal cruelty. Read the full story and view the disturbing footage.

    The matter will again be before Midlands Magistrate Court (WA) on the 29th September 2009.

    This is an embarrassing situation for the Australian Pork Industry.  We would like a clear statement from Australian Pork Limited that this sort of cruelty and disregard for animal and human health will not be tolerated.  This cannot be dismissed as an isolated incident and Mr Ferguson should be stood down from the Board of APL until this matter is heard in court.


  • 15 Nov 2011 9:10 PM | Anonymous

    The Greens NSW would like to thank Humane Society International and their Humane Choice division, Free Range Egg and Poultry Association of Australia (FREPAA) and Animal Liberation for their guidance and ongoing support of our Truth in Labelling for Free-range Eggs Campaign.

    Our Truth in Labelling (Free-range Eggs) Bill now has a chance of becoming law. We would not be in this position had they not so generously shared their time and expert knowledge on the egg industry and the challenges facing ethical farmers and consumers.

    Visit their websites to find out more about their great work and campaigns to help our bill become law

    The Greens NSW would also like to thank the following organisations and their assistance

    Animals Australia


    There is still a long way to go to achieve truth in labelling for free-range eggs. The bill needs to pass through the Lower House with the support of the Government.

    Click here to read more about our bill and what you can do to support it.
  • 13 Nov 2011 9:43 PM | Anonymous
    Interview on free range chicken stocking densities plus Sound file
  • 18 Oct 2011 10:51 PM | Anonymous

    Industry Feathers its Own Nest with Misleading
    Free Range Logo

    Humane Choice has taken an unprecedented stand in support of small free range producers nationally and today has shone the spotlight on the Australian egg industry’s peak industry body, Australian Egg Corporation and the inequity of its Egg Corp Assured program.  The industry owned quality assurance program is to come under scrutiny for its bias towards large producers and the misuse of their Egg Corp Assured Trademark.

    “Egg Corp have taken advantage of producer and consumer confusion over standards, codes of practice, production definitions and accreditation logos for far too long,” stated Chief Operating Officer for Humane Choice, Lee McCosker.  “We have Codes of Practice in place for animal welfare and environmental management for free range egg production that make a very clear statement about what the acceptable stocking density is for free range hens and that is 1500 birds per hectare.  Stocking rates are not ‘uncapped’ as Egg Corp would have us believe.”

    Egg Corp administers the Egg Corp Assured program that licences producers to use their logo on egg cartons.  The quality assurance program operates under a certification trademark and as such indicates to consumers that the eggs carrying that logo meet a particular standard.  In this case, that producers meet the requirements of the Model Code of Practice for Animal Welfare – Domestic Poultry.

    In recent media, Egg Corp have acknowledged that their audits have revealed free range stocking densities in excess of 50,000 birds per hectare.

    Egg Corp is in breach of their own standards and rules of their quality assurance program and have allowed producers to misrepresent their product.  Egg Corp have effectively licensed producers to deceive the public into believing that all eggs labelled free range and carrying the Egg Corp Assured logo act within the guidelines of the Code of Practice when this is generally not the case.

    McCosker says that it is time to expose Egg Corp for its disregard for industry code of practice and the law, to put an end to the widespread mislabelling of free range eggs and to protect the genuine free range producer before the integrity of their industry is in tatters.

    “Australian Egg Corporation needs to be held accountable for the part they have played in allowing this deception to happen and for government and regulators to acknowledge that industry is just not capable of self regulation.  The push to increase stocking rates to 20,000 birds per hectare needs to be brought to an abrupt halt.  Given the performance of Egg Corp to date, we cannot trust them to enforce 1500 birds per hectare so what could we expect if it was increased to 20,000?”

    The term free range is not up for grabs by the highest bidder or levy payer.  The consumer has driven the demand for free range eggs and their expectations are not being met.  Humane Choice has lodged an official complaint with ACCC about the deception that is being perpetrated by the Australian Egg Corporation.

    Contact: Lee McCosker - Chief Operating Officer, Humane Choice
    (02) 6562 7318 or 0423 260 030

    Humane Choice True Free Range is a whole of farm accreditation system for true free range, pasture raised pork, beef, lamb, chicken and egg producers.

  • 21 Sep 2011 3:07 AM | Anonymous

    MEDIA RELEASE         22nd September 2011

    Until now it has been pretty much a free for all when it came to labelling free range eggs.

    The burgeoning demand has led to some producers simply re-inventing themselves with clever marketing and incorporating the words free or free range into their brand to capture a share of this market.  Consumer needs and wants have been ignored or just exploited by those that have chosen to misrepresent their product.

    Consumers have an expectation when they purchase free range eggs.  At the very least there should be some guarantee that these birds are actually free to range.  Allowing massive increases in stocking densities for outdoor birds will only line the pockets of intensive producers and will be detrimental to consumer perceptions of the free range industry, the health and welfare of the birds and damaging to the environment.

    Industry is almost frantic to take control of the term free range and has attempted to implement these changes quietly without full producer consultation or, more importantly, without consideration for just what the consumer perceives free range to be.

    “Feeding a growing population is no justification for high jacking the term free range”, says Lee McCosker from Humane Choice. What Australian Egg Corporation are proposing would be the equivalent of hen feed lots and socially and environmentally irresponsible..  The term free range belongs to those producers that are truly committed to giving the consumer the ethical product that they seek.  The choice is the consumer’s to make and must not be taken from them with deceptive labelling.  If it’s not free to range, simply call it something else.”

    Humane Choice will be attending the launch of the Green’s Truth in Labelling Bill (for free range eggs) to show our support for this much needed initiative. We need legislation now that will define free range and protect not only the consumer, but the welfare of layer hens and the environment.

  • 15 Sep 2011 9:14 PM | Anonymous

    Free to call their product whatever they like.   That’s what some chicken producers thought until the ACCC stepped in this week and announced that the term ‘free to roam’ was misleading consumers.

    The burgeoning demand for free range product has seen many producers attempt to side step changes to their actual production systems and instead simply reinvent their image with addition of the word FREE in their marketing.  Free to roam, free to fly and room to roam and play are all sweeteners for production systems that are nothing more than birds and animals kept at very high stocking densities in sheds.

    The ACCC announcement coincides with the release of the Australian Egg Corporation’s (AECL) proposed free range standard that will allow stocking rates for free range birds to increase from 1,500 to 20,000 birds per hectare.  AECL, a producer owned industry peak body that is also funded by the government, is proposing that producers act outside the Code of Practice, and in Queensland, outside the law.

    Humane Choice represents true free range producers and over 100,000 layer hens.  Humane Choice had written to the ACCC asking that they step in and prevent the AECL from rushing these standards through without full industry consultation.  The ACCC has now put on hold any decision regarding the AECL certification trademark application before them (that would allow the standards to be immediately implemented) pending the outcome of further consultation with all producers.

    “The big end of industry is intent on using the term ‘free’ in their marketing to take advantage of this growing market and to boost sales.  We don’t see the needs of the consumer being addressed at all.  It’s a mine field of false or confusing claims for them with no way of telling if what is written on the label means eggs are actually free to range.” Says Lee McCosker, Compliance Manager for Humane Choice.

    McCosker suggests that consumers check out the different brands and label claims first at

    Contact: Lee McCosker -  0412 326 030, email
  • 07 Jul 2011 2:48 AM | Anonymous

    No growth promoters in Coles Pork - PAYLEAN just doesn’t pay

    06 July 2011

    Coles has once again put the consumer and animal welfare first and banned the use of the growth promoter Paylean in fresh pork supplied to their stores. 

    Paylean is banned in over 160 countries including China, but is used extensively in the Australian pork industry.

    Unlike other growth promoters and hormones used in livestock, which have a withholding period before the animal can be slaughtered, Paylean is administered at the finishing stage of pig production and generally fed to them in the last 28 days of life. Producers are only required to stop feeding this product to pigs 12 hours before slaughter.

    The Paylean product label offers this warning: “Not for use in humans. Individuals with cardiovascular disease should exercise special caution to avoid exposure.

    Paylean makes pigs miserable.  It can make them aggressive, difficult to handle and cause heart attacks in stressed pigs.   The term ‘paylean pigs’ is used in the industry to describe the dead carcasses that arrive on trucks to abattoirs.  The stress of handling and transport is just too much for many of these pigs.

    According to Temple Grandin, Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University, the "indiscriminant use of Paylean (ractopamine) has contributed to an increase in downer non-ambulatory pigs," and pigs that "are extremely difficult to move and drive."

    Nor can we overlook the effects of "adding these drugs to waterways or well water supplies - via contaminated animal feed and manure runoff - when this class of drugs is so important in treating children with asthma," says David Wallinga, MD of the US  Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

    Paylean has implications for animal welfare, human health and meat quality.  We applaud this move by Coles to ban it in pork sold in their stores.

    Contact: Lee McCosker, Humane Choice Manager on 0401 067 967  or


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