Results of a CHOICE survey released today show that consumers are demanding transparent and reliable labelling for free-range eggs that meet high animal welfare standards which is best achieved through legislation, according to Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon and NSW MP John Kaye.
Greens Senator and animal welfare spokesperson Lee Rhiannon said, "Just last week in Senate Estimates the CEO of the Egg Corporation made a valiant effort to argue that "cage egg production systems do provide animal welfare benefits".
"This shows exactly where the Egg Corporation is at - defending the battery cage with its well established negative impacts on the health of laying hens.
"Shoppers want to have faith in the free-range label. Half of the people surveyed by CHOICE indicated they rely solely on the term 'free-range' when buying eggs.
"This undermines the Egg Corporation's argument that people can choose between what they think is "free-range".
"Consumers are not swallowing the Egg Corporation's attempts to gloss over the gross variations in the animal welfare and environmental standards on eggs labelled as free-range", Senator Rhiannon said.
Dr Kaye said: "The Greens' bill before the NSW Parliament would provide a legislated definition of free-range egg production that would help end the confusion and exploitation that is concerning consumers.
"The results of the CHOICE survey resoundingly reinforce the need to provide certainty to individuals when they buy free-range eggs.
"This can only be achieved by ending the free range free-for-all that industry self-regulation has become.
"Respondents sent a loud and clear message that 'free-range' must mean adequate outdoor space and a ban on cruel procedures such as beak trimming.
"The Egg Corporation and the large industrial producers they represent are treating consumers with utter disdain by continuing the myth that 20,000 birds per hectare can be free range.
"The NSW Government must stand up to the Egg Corporation and protect people who don't want to buy into animal cruelty," Dr Kaye said.
More information: Details of the survey. Senate estimate transcript of Egg Corporation claims.