Australian consumers are being deceived by false claims from so-called ‘free-range’ egg producers.
Free-Range Egg Farms, which produce the brands Ecoeggs, Port Stephens and Field Fresh, have been issued a $300,000 fine by the Federal Court for falsely labelling their eggs as ‘free-range’. This is the sixth similar instance in the past five years, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
This latest instance comes just one month after Australian Consumer Affairs Ministers’ controversial decision to define free-range as hens having ‘regular and meaningful access to the outdoors’, and a maximum outdoor stocking density of 10,000 hens per hectare. This is in opposition to the Model Code of Practice recommendation of no more than 1,500 hens per hectare.
“Today’s ruling shows that consumers can’t trust free-range egg labels in supermarkets,” said CHOICE spokesperson Erin Turner.
“These producers have knowingly misled and deceived customers yet their practices will likely be protected by a weak free-range egg standard and consumers will be the ones to lose.”
CHOICE prescribes to the Model Code of Practice recommendation that hens are stocked at no more than 1,500 hens per hectare.
“Eggs that come from hens that don’t go outside and have high stocking densities don’t meet consumers’ expectations and don’t deserve the free-range label,” said Turner.
“We are calling on consumers to continue boycotting bad eggs stocking at 10,000 hens per hectare, including Ecoeggs, Port Stephens and Field Fresh. Consumers should look for eggs from hens stocked at 1,500 hens per hectare which are much more likely to free roam.”
CHOICE have developed an app called CluckAR, which allows consumers to scan free range egg cartons and figure out which eggs live up to their claims.