Know your eggs: 10,000 hens per hectare should not count as ‘free range’
The government has decided on new rules for free range egg labels that fail consumers. Their proposed information standard allows egg producers stocking at 10,000 hens per hectare to call themselves free range. Their proposed standard does not require that chickens are outdoors.
Choice, consumer advocate’s efforts
Free-range eggs cost more, but they aren’t all equal. Some come from hens with plenty of space to roam. Some may be laid by birds in cramped conditions. When you buy free range, you should have confidence that the eggs are what you expect. Certification standards exist, but the detail and requirements of these schemes vary. The maximum outdoor stocking densities allowed under each scheme can range from 750 to 10,000 chickens per hectare, and the industry has admitted to ‘free range’ production at over 20,000 birds per hectare.
“Many consumers are paying extra assuming hens are staying in the equivalent of a comfortable bed and breakfast, but instead they’re stuck in a crowded backpacker hostel,” CHOICE director of campaigns and communications Matt Levey says.
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How you can help
The government’s standard leaves consumers with no choice but to boycott bad eggs that are using the free range label but not living up to the claim.
Eggs that come from chickens that don’t go outside and have high stocking densities don’t meet consumers’ expectations and don’t deserve the free range label. Boycott these eggs and tell Ministers responsible for this decision about your pledge. To identify which producers are bad and stock at 10,000 hens per hectare, use CHOICE’s new free range egg app. CluckAR.
Tell State, Territory and Federal Ministers who voted on a bad standard that you will boycott bad eggs because labelling requirements aren’t strong enough: