Greens MLC joins ACCC in cracking down on egg labelling

A bill to provide certainty for shoppers who prefer free-range eggs was introduced yesterday by Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren. The bill ensures that producers cannot mislead consumers by bending rules on free range requirements. Ms MacLaren explained the bill comes at a good time. 

“We’ve just had the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) ‘crack down’ on two egg producers who have allegedly misled consumers by using the term ‘free range’, there is no doubt that we must create stricter legislation so that labelling is more truthful and fair”. 

“Under our bill, the term free-range may only be used when an egg is produced under the conditions of the Western Australian Code of Practice for Poultry, with no more than 1500 hens per hectare, or 2,500 hens per hectare in specific circumstances”, she explained. 

“There is increasing demand by consumers for eggs produced in non-cage systems and there is a need to ensure the accuracy of claims that eggs offered for sale are produced this way”.  

“Free-range eggs have become big business in Western Australia, and this term has been high-jacked by large-scale producers. We need to bring truth back into the egg industry.

Hens that currently produce so-called free range eggs can be in conditions from 750 hens per hectare up to 20 000 hens per hectare, which is the standard proposed by the Australian Egg Corporation. 

“Under the Bill a free-range hen must have daytime access for a minimum of eight hours per day to an outdoor range, protected from predators and the elements. They also must have access to a perch, litter and a nest at night. They must not exceed 1500 hens per hectare”.