Ministers: Make “Free Range” Mean Better Hen Welfare

RSPCA Australia is calling on State and Territory Consumer Affairs Ministers to set a national standard for free range eggs.

RSPCA’s Senior Policy Officer, Dr Jed Goodfellow, said a meeting of the Ministers on March 31st could meet consumer demands for clarity on egg labelling.

“Believe it or not, there is no legal definition for ‘free-range’ eggs, so what consumers are buying might not actually be what they expect,” Dr Goodfellow said.

 “Australia’s consumers are increasingly voting with their wallets, demanding that their eggs come from farms which practice higher hen welfare standards.

“RSPCA Australia believes free range eggs should come from hens who actually go outside, are protected from adverse weather and predators, and are allowed to practice natural behaviours such as dust bathing, perching, foraging, and laying their eggs in a nest.

“We know Australians care about where their food comes from and how our animals are treated. We are asking them to contact their State and Territory Ministers to adopt a nationally consistent standard, so that ‘free range’ actually means what it says.

“This is an urgent issue, and a rare opportunity for Australians to put the welfare of layer hens first. There are still more than 11 million hens in bare cages. They suffer intensely and continuously throughout their lives.

“With more consumers than ever demanding an end to cage eggs, now is the time to move.  A national standard on accurate labelling of ‘free range’, including the mandatory national labelling of cage eggs, will improve consumer confidence in the egg market.

“This is an opportunity for our legislators to act decisively in the interests of Australian consumers.

“Through RSPCA Australia, consumers can express their views to their Ministers and call for them to take action,” Dr Goodfellow said.

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