Check the label and choose real free range eggs

Despite a disappointing new national standard on egg labelling commencing this week, Canberrans can still choose ‘genuine’ free range eggs and support best-practice animal welfare standards, said ACT Greens Spokesperson for Animal Welfare Caroline Le Couteur.

A new national ‘free range’ standard comes into force this week that requires egg packaging to prominently state the stocking density of hens that laid the eggs on egg cartons. However, the standard allows eggs produced at up to 10,000 birds per hectare to be classified as ‘free range’.

“The ACT Greens believe that real free range means no more than 1,500 birds per hectare,” Ms Le Couteur said. “The national standard largely maintains the status quo on battery farming and bird density while ignoring the latest evidence on the wellbeing of birds in farming.

“The Federal Government should also be considering how it can phase out the inhumane practice of hens in battery cages.

“However, the plus side is that from today the stocking density of ‘free range’ eggs must be clearly stated on the carton label, allowing consumers to make more informed choices.

“I would encourage Canberrans who support free range to make sure they check the labelling on their egg cartons and choose carefully before purchase.”

The Greens have advocated for genuine ‘free range’ standards in line with community expectations and best-practice animal welfare for over 20 years. Resulting reforms include the labelling of egg shelves in retail outlets to inform consumers of the difference between cage, barn laid and free range eggs, commencing in 2010; and the banning of battery cages in egg production and de-beaking for all chicken farming in 2014.

At the Federal Consumer Affairs Forum in 2016, ACT Greens MLA and Minister for Consumer Affairs Shane Rattenbury pushed for a maximum outdoor stocking density of 1,500 birds per hectare.