Consumer group CHOICE has launched an app which provides consumers with an ‘augmented reality’ view of the various living conditions of birds categorised as ‘free range’.
The app comes in the wake of Consumer Affairs Ministers’ decision last week to sign off on a national standard for free-range eggs that has no requirement for hens to ever actually go outside and allows free-range eggs to be produced by hens stocked at up to 10,000 birds per hectare – more than six times the current voluntary limit of 1,500.
“With Augmented Reality on your phone or tablet we now have the power to make labels tell the truth, even when government won’t require it,” said CHOICE Head of Media Tom Godfrey.
“With the new ‘free-range’ rules clearly reflecting the commercial interests of the big industrialised egg producers over consumers, we had to intervene in this market to make up for the failing of Consumer Affairs Ministers.
“The app gives power back to consumers, helping them navigate the free-range egg market. By scanning a free-range egg carton, consumers can quickly see which eggs live up to the ‘free-range’ claim.
According to CHOICE, at a minimum, a standard for free-range eggs should require that eggs labelled ‘free-range’ are produced in farms where chickens actually go outside and have a maximum outdoor stocking density of 1,500 hens per hectare.
CHOICE claims that 213 million eggs were sold as free-range in 2014 that didn’t meet consumers’ expectations.