ACT Government taking free-range egg fight to the shelves with better signage

Lachlan Roberts 6 September 2019 17

The ACT Government requires signs providing information about stocking densities to be displayed at stores selling eggs. Photo: Supplied.

The ACT Government is hoping new signs displayed in the eggs section of local shops and supermarkets will aid its campaign for stronger free-range eggs labels but will also help consumers make informed choices.

Last year, the Federal Government enforced laws requiring all egg packages to prominently display the stocking density of its hens, allowing eggs produced on farms with a stocking density of up to 10,000 birds per hectare to be labelled as free-range.

The ACT was the only jurisdiction to disagree with the standard and argued that only eggs produced in farms with a stocking density of 1,500 birds or less per hectare should be labelled free-range.

The ACT Government argued that the stocking density of up to 10,000 birds per hectare wasn’t free-range, saying hens would only have a space of one square metre each.

ACT Minister for Consumer Affairs Shane Rattenbury said the 1,500 standard is more in line with consumer expectations, with the standard supported by RSPCA and the Humane Society International.

Unable to change the Federal labelling requirements on egg packaging, Mr Rattenbury has announced that the ACT Government is now requiring signs with information about stocking densities to be displayed on stores’ egg shelves.

The signs also state that the ACT Government only considers eggs produced with a stocking density of 1,500 hens or less per hectare to be genuinely free-range.

“Consumers have the right to make informed decisions about where their dollars go, and what type of egg-farming they support,” Mr Rattenbury said. “The ACT Government believes that free-range labelling should signify high animal welfare standards and not an intensive farming production.”

The Greens leader said he is still disappointed that other jurisdictions allowed the free-range standard in Australia to “be watered down”.

He pointed to a 2015 survey conducted by CHOICE, which found that 91 per cent of free-range egg buyers thought it was important that birds have room to move comfortably when they are outside, as to why the current standards are not acceptable.

“This is not what consumers think is free-range,” he said. “Consumers want the confidence that eggs labelled free-range come from hens who have the freedom to move around outside and to live reasonably comfortably.

“The simple addition of informative signage will hopefully go some way to assisting consumers who care about the living standards of hens to make an informed decision that aligns with their ethical principles.”

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17 Responses to ACT Government taking free-range egg fight to the shelves with better signage
Lori J Tas Lori J Tas 7:49 pm 08 Sep 19

Good to see :)

David Jackson David Jackson 7:30 pm 08 Sep 19

I only buy my eggs if they are from caged hens as I like my hens to work for a living unlike those dole bludging free range hens

Natalie Grey Natalie Grey 6:32 pm 08 Sep 19

So consumers are too stupid to work this out for themselves without government signage?

    Lori J Tas Lori J Tas 7:49 pm 08 Sep 19

    Natalie Grey yes, plenty of people are shocked when shown photos of what 10,000 hens per hectare looks like, people really struggle to visualise things in those sort of quantities.

    Cathy Lloyd Cathy Lloyd 9:34 pm 08 Sep 19

    Basically, yes.

    Sar Sturt Sar Sturt 9:50 pm 08 Sep 19

    LJ Tas r they shocked when they see what happens to the male chickens born in to the egg industry or does free range eggs make their slaughter ok?

    Lori J Tas Lori J Tas 10:23 pm 08 Sep 19

    Sar Sturt mixed, some are shocked (and those that are very upset are where the less than 1% of population that are vegan start from I guess), some presume they end up the chicken meat they buy in the supermarket, some know it's where their cat food comes from?

    Renee Hindson Renee Hindson 11:15 pm 08 Sep 19

    Yep. I’m too stupid

    Renee Hindson Renee Hindson 11:17 pm 08 Sep 19

    I never did win a “how many jellybeans in the jar” competition

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 11:57 pm 08 Sep 19

    I agree with LJ Tas, only a few are shocked. I've seen what happens to male chickens. Death is very quick and they would hardly have awareness.

Jane Woodrow Jane Woodrow 4:26 pm 08 Sep 19

Great news, hope all Australia follows.

Ali White Ali White 4:07 pm 08 Sep 19

Yay!!! Go Shane Rattenbury MLA! 👏👏👏

nothappyjan nothappyjan 3:26 pm 08 Sep 19

While our hospitals are are in chaos, with people dieing on waiting list for emergency procedures, our school results are going backwards, our homes are crumbling due to poor council oversight, and our union run public transport is forcing people to start driving again, it is very comforting to know that the ACT council of Greens and Labor are looking out for the chickens.

Jane Speechley Jane Speechley 3:19 pm 08 Sep 19

Such great news! Well done by the ACT Government 👍

Daniel Oyston Daniel Oyston 3:17 pm 08 Sep 19

Probs paid a motza to get that sign designed.

    Jason Duarte Jason Duarte 4:05 pm 08 Sep 19

    That's one consulting contract that would have been nice to have

Philip Westwood Philip Westwood 2:49 pm 08 Sep 19

An excellent decision, but it may caused confusion amongst consumers unless politicians withdraw the intensive standard they approved.

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