NSW scheme clarifies farm production label definitions to consumers

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 28th June 2012

A new scheme will provide greater transparency for New South Wales consumers about farm production systems.

Terms such as “free-range”, “barn” and “cage” are now more clearly defined on the NSW Food Authority website.

Information on the various egg production schemes operating in NSW is now available online to enable consumers to make informed food choices.

“The NSW Food Authority has responded to calls for more transparent information on egg labelling and consumers who want to know more about farm production systems,” NSW Food Authority CEO, Polly Bennett said recently.

Egg producers in NSW are required to comply with the Model Code for the Welfare of Domestic Animals – Poultry (Fourth Edition), which, according to Ms Bennett, is due to be reviewed. The Model Code contains nationally agreed definitions for terms such as “free-range”, “barn” and “cage” eggs.

In response to recent community concern with respect to egg labelling, the NSW Food Authority recently analysed a number of widely available “free-range” schemes operating in NSW and found that they comply with the requirements of the Model Code.

The ‘free range’ schemes assessed by the NSW Food Authority all use the Model Code definition as a foundation, and in some cases overlaid by additional criteria particular to that scheme.

As Australian Food News has reported, the issue of defining “free-range” is not a new one. In September 2011, the Australian Egg Corporation Limited (AECL) proposed controversial new “free range” standards, seeking to extend the maximum number of birds per hectare from 1,500 to 20,000. The proposal outraged the Free Range Farmers Association, as threatening smaller producers who maintained a stricter definition of “free range”.

Further information on the Model Code for the Welfare of Poultry and the newer NSW egg production schemes can be found here.