Call for comment reveals cracks in new free-range egg label plan

28 May

Further to yesterday’s post regarding Free Ranged Eggs, this article in todays SMH is great news.

Written by Alexandra Smith. Published May 28, 2012 in Sydney Morning Herald.

English: These chickens create the beautiful f...

English: These chickens create the beautiful free range eggs that are served at Tranquilles Bed and Breakfast, Cafe and Gallery at Port Sorell, Tasmania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

THE introduction of a controversial new definition of free-range eggs could be delayed after the consumer watchdog decided to call for public comments on the standard, which animal welfare and consumer groups strongly oppose.

The Australian Egg Corporation, which represents most egg farmers, lodged an application with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to register a new certification trademark, which would allow egg producers to keep as many as 20,000 hens a hectare and label them on egg cartons as free-range.

The egg corporation had hoped to introduce the new standard and use the trademark by the end of next month.

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But amid widespread criticism of the standard, the ACCC has written to ”interested parties” asking them to comment on the egg corporation’s standards before it considers the new trademark.

A spokesman for the ACCC said the decision to call for public comments on a trademark application was made on a ”case-by-case” basis and depended on the nature of the trademark and whether it would raise any consumer issues.

The head of the egg corporation, James Kellaway, has warned that a carton of free-range eggs would soar to at least $10 a dozen if farmers did not embrace the organisation’s planned new standard.

“This is a responsible standard to feed Australia’s growing population long into the future,” Mr Kellaway said.

But Lee McCosker, a spokeswoman for Humane Choice, said the group complained to the ACCC more than a year ago about the egg corporation’s plans to dramatically increase stocking densities. “When we learnt that the egg corporation 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,” Ms McCosker said.

A free-range egg purchased in the UK.

A free-range egg purchased in the UK. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“It appears the intention of the egg corporation was to present a standard to the ACCC that suited the larger industrialised producers while seriously marginalising the genuine free-range farmer.

”We can only trust that the ACCC has recognised this and also acknowledged that the consumer will be disadvantaged if this standard were to ever make it into the marketplace.”

Phil Westwood, the president of the Free Range Egg and Poultry Association, said there was ”considerable anger” within the egg industry.

He said the egg corporation was ”more interested in meeting the agendas of the major supermarket chains and corporate operators rather than the many legitimate farmers across Australia”.

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Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Food: Ethical Eating


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3 responses to “Call for comment reveals cracks in new free-range egg label plan

  1. narf77

    June 2, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Is it just me getting VERY tired of big businesses lobbying to get everything swung in their favour? This story smacks of anti competitive behaviour and misleading advertising in much the same way as the corn fructose industry wanting to rename their product (syrup) corn sugar to realign themselves in the market because they have such a SUCKY name. “I know… lets call ourselves free range because free range eggs sell better while we keep intensively farming the heck out of those poor chooks to make maximum profit”…yeh… we aint that dumb egg farmers! sigh…

    • Rhianna

      June 3, 2012 at 8:26 am

      The fear is that there is not enough food to feed our growing population so we must develope more intensive farming strats to deal with that. Fact is that America dumps as much food as it sells straight into landfill while Africa starves. Why? Economics – its cheaper to dump it than move it. What needs to happen is to only produce what is needed and to redirect the money that would be spent on farming in the USA to Africa to help them develop ecologically sound farming practices that is capable of feeding their people. Suggesting a redistribution of wealth is parallel to treason for an Economist, but truly its vital for sustainable development.
      Good to see you back, Fran. Ive missed your stimulation conversations.

      • narf77

        June 3, 2012 at 2:27 pm

        Also…if you increase the amount of chickens you are going to have to HUGELY increase the amount of chicken feed…who benefits from that? Why… methinks it might be the grain growing confraturnity one of the biggest lobby groups that we have in Australia…interesting that eh? 😉 (back scratching to the MAX)


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