‘Free range’ re-defined by Ministers for new scheme
At a meeting on 12 June 2015 consumer affairs ministers of the Australian States and Territories agreed to develop a national standard and legal definition for “free range eggs”.
“There’s been a lot of talk about egg labelling, for many, many, many years. But today, we agreed on making a clear definition which will give certainty for consumers and clarity for producers” stated NSW Minister for Innovation and Better Deregulation Victor Dominello.
The standard is anticipated to be prepared for the end of 2015. However, it will not form a part of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
Five alternative options were discussed at the meeting, including retaining the status quo, an industry-developed trademark scheme, a revised model code, an industry code of conduct, or the development of a national information standard.
Meanwhile, a study released on 10 June 2015 by Australia’s leading consumer advocacy group CHOICE has found confusion over the meaning of ‘free range’, noting that higher prices were not synonymous with better treatment of laying hens.
The study found that free range eggs from farms with 1500 hens per hectare cost an average of $1.12 per 100 g, whereas farms with 10,000 hens per hectare were charging more,
Choice’s director of campaigns Matt Levey stated “Egg producers are profiting from the free-range labelling confusion. It’s a big loophole that some producers have exploited for too long.”