Monday, August 01, 2011

NSW Greens introduce their Truth in Labelling Bill

Louise Hall wrote this article in today's Sydney Morning Herald:

THE NSW Greens will introduce legislation into the NSW Parliament this week to create a labelling scheme for caged, barn and free range eggs.

Egg producers will be allowed to label their cartons free range only if there is no more than 750 laying fowl per hectare. Water, shade and shelter must also be provided and beak trimming is prohibited under the Truth in Labelling (Free-Range Eggs) Bill.

Eggs that are not free range or barn must be labelled as cage eggs. The use of advertising or packaging that suggests the laying fowl are not kept in cages would be prohibited.

Corporations would face fines of up to $55,000. Individuals could receive six months’ jail and a $5500 fine.

The Greens MP John Kaye said people were being ripped off by unscrupulous caged egg producers, and legitimate free range producers were unable to compete. He said the absence of legislated definitions and enforceable penalties for false labelling meant in some cases free range "is nothing more than a marketing exercise to boost sales and prices".

The ACT and Tasmania have passed legislation to regulate the production and labelling of eggs.

The industry body, the Australian Egg Corporation, said the cap on stocking densities in the draft bill is "unsustainable and unrealistic".

AECL, dominated by Australia’s three largest egg producers, says it will lobby NSW MPs to vote against the bill.

With the Egg Corporation lobbying hard against it, the Bill will have an uphill battle. Hopefully thee will be a groundswell of support to let the MP's realise that the provisions in the Bill are very sustainable and realistic.
Many commercial free range egg farms are operating with those standards already in place all over Australia. Members of associations affiliated with the Free Range Egg and Poultry Association of Australia  meet those requirements which are recognised by consumers as satisfying their 'free range' expectations.
The Australian Egg Corporation of course wants a plan which allows intensive farming operations to be classified as 'free range' and allow up to 20,000 chickens per hectare and the beak trimming of birds to be accepted as 'normal'.

1 comment:

XTrail DayTripper said...

Thanks again for another enlightening post.

We started with backyard 'pet' chickens this year. I must admit I hadn't seen a live chicken for about 25 years (prior to January) so when we got our first two pullets I didn't realise they'd had their beaks trimmed (stupid me!) It wasn't until we got 4 birds with full beaks that I realised something wasn't as natured intended.

Having been an egg consumer for nearly 40 years, I believe all consumers have a right to know about where the eggs they buy come from. It is wrong to keep fowl in a cage or a faeces covered barn or even at such a density that trimming their beaks is deemed necessary. Perhaps the Egg Corp executives wouldn't mind if we snipped off part of their mouths? If they all do it maybe we will see the practice as normal? Perhaps we could push them all into one dimly lit office and leave them standing in their own #@$% while we're at it.

It is unconscionable that some producers can and do lead their consumers so far up the garden path with their pretty pics and 'facts' written on cartons. If I had known then what I know now [shudder]. All this dilutes the good work done by true free range farms. I have truly lost faith and I hope to always have my own small flock of chickens so I don't ever risk supporting those big factory egg farms in the future.