Thursday, May 30, 2013

24 egg packs at Frankston Farmers Market

We will be at the Frankston Farmers' Market this Saturday with a full range of eggs from 500 gram ten packs to 950 gram Megga Eggs. But we will have a new deal on offer.

New 24 egg cartons are available now, so we will be selling 24 packs of 65 gram eggs at $14.50 -  a 50 cent saving on buying two 12 cartons.

We will see how it goes and we may extend the range in 24 packs!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Accreditation, egg substitution and deception

Egg substitution has been rife for years but probably first came to general notice in Victoria during 2007 with a high profile case when a company was fined for labelling eggs as organic when they were from conventional farms.

In 2012, a NSW barn egg farm was fined for packaging its eggs as free range and a South Australian egg seller was fined for putting cage eggs in free range cartons.

Also in 2012. An egg farm in WA was caught with a huge overstocking rate which breached its planning conditions. This farm was accredited by a national egg quality scheme but despite annual audits which required compliance with planning conditions the farm remained accredited. It's accreditation was only withdrawn once the breaches became public and legal proceedings began.

In Victoria in 2012 inspection and audit processes revealed that a farm which sold eggs to a major supermarket was packing and selling non-accredited eggs from dubious sources and that colouring additives were being used in poultry feed – breaching particular standards.

Labels can also be misleading, with pictures of hens frolicking on green pasture, which frequently doesn't resemble conditions on the farm.

A questionable 'organic' accreditation body also exists in Victoria which is not recognised by mainstream organic bodies and which does not have a credible inspection process – but it claims that the products which members sell are certified organic. AQIS, which registers organic certification bodies in Australia, is apparently only involved with export industries – so it has no jurisdiction over domestic 'organic' claims.

Accreditation means different things to different people. Consumers rightly expect it to convey a message of credibility about a particular product, but to many businesses it's simply a marketing tool designed to allow them to make claims which increase their profits.

Similarly, a logo can be a valuable asset if it is trusted by consumers. But it's value can be destroyed if it is shown to be meaningless. Any accreditation program is only as good as the willingness of the accreditation body to maintain its standards and defend its logo.

That is why it is so disappointing that standards are ignored by accreditation bodies. Even using things like egg yolk colourings should be disclosed to consumers. Everyone expects cage farms to use them to enhance yolk colour but it is not necessary on a genuine free range farm with low stocking densities and plenty of green feed. It needlessly puts consumers at risk.

To maintain ethical standards and credibility, all certification bodies need to defend their standards and take action against members who break the rules.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has sent out notices to many egg producers, requiring them to justify the claims made on their packaging – claims such as 'free range'.

Hopefully this will start a 'clean-up' process.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Freeranger on The Living Room

Here's a link to a preview of part of tonight's The Living Room show on Channel 10. Celebrity chef Miguel Maestre cooks Green Eggs and Ham - after reading the Dr Seuss book to our chooks!!/photo.php?v=450039318424907&set=vb.198962956865879&type=2&theater

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What's in a name ?

It's not just the hidden use of colouring additives by many egg producers that is causing waves in the industry, nor the arguments about densities and beak trimming hens on 'free range' farms.  Now one of Australia's largest producers is coming under scrutiny in South Australia for its labelling.

Apparently it is using the name 'Barossa' on eggs which may not produced in that state.

Here's an article from today's Adelaide Advertiser:

A VICTORIAN firm selling eggs under the name Barossa Ridge Farms is being investigated by the state consumer watchdog for potentially breaching labelling laws.
The eggs are being sold in the Barossa Valley but consumers are concerned they may not originate in the world-famous wine region.
Clever marketing - including a large picture of vines on the carton lid - indicates that the eggs are produced in the Barossa but the fine print shows that might not be true.
These eggs are sold by Melbourne-based Farm Pride Foods - formerly the Victorian Egg Marketing Board - and labelled in the fine print as product of Australia.
A carton of the eggs was bought by a shopper at a deli in Tanunda last week and given to Opposition agriculture spokesman David Ridgway over concerns the labelling is misleading.
"I have spoken to the company which said it can't guarantee the eggs are from the Barossa or even from SA," Mr Ridgway said.
He has invited the public to contact him with other misleading advertising examples in order to name and shame offending companies on his website.
And if the Opposition is elected to government next year, he pledged to review labelling laws to provide better protection for South Australian consumers.
Minister for Consumer and Business Services John Rau said he was "outraged" by the labelling.
"I've referred this matter to Consumer and Business Services - as a regulator of Australian Consumer Law - to see whether or not this is an example of misleading or deceptive food labelling," he said yesterday.
The Barossa branch of Regional Development Australia said the misleading use of the region's name to market products is an "issue that has been raised before".
"When you have a brand which comes with as much value as the Barossa Valley, there always will be people looking to exploit it," the Barossa branch chief executive Anne Moroney said.
Barossa Food - representing local food producers - said "with Barossa eggs you would expect the chooks to come from the Barossa Valley".
"It is hoodwinking consumers because they may not recognise the eggs are not from the Barossa," Barossa Food committee member Jan Angus said. "I implore the government to ... help us."

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Freeranger Eggs on The Living Room

The Freeranger Egg farm will feature on the Channel 10 TV show 'The Living Room' next Friday (May 24 at 7.30). It will probably only be four minutes or so, but celebrity chef Miguel Maestre and the film crew were on the Freeranger farm in February for around eight hours.
They filmed in several of our paddocks and Miguel helped to collect eggs before cooking superb scrambled eggs - Green Eggs and Ham - after reading the Dr Seuss book to the chooks! They certainly enjoyed it as they are always happy in interact with people.

We had to keep some of Maremmas out of the way because they don't like anyone messing around with their hens.
 It was great to meet the production crew, and yes Miguel is just as full-on in person as he is on screen.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Problems with colouring in eggs

As this is Food Allergy Awareness Week in Australia, it is worth looking at the widespread use of colouring additives. All major egg producers and many small ones - even those which claim to be free range and organic - use colouring additives in the feed they give their hens. Some members of the Free Range Farmers Association have been deliberately using those additives for more than a year – even though the use of manufactured colourings is a clear breach of the Association's standards.
The use of those additives is completely unnecessary in a free range flock, as hens running on quality pasture and at low stocking densities will obtain enough carotenoids from the green feed in the paddock to maintain good yolk colour. The colour will vary – depending on the time of year and what each hen has been eating – but many egg producers want to con consumers by using additives to provide consistent, bright yolk colour.

Many of those additives are synthetic - adding to the chemical cocktail mix in food. But even those which are claimed to be 'natural' are manufactured in factories – often in China. What the manufacturers mean by using the word 'natural' is that the additives may be derived from natural products but are processed and concentrated into a powder or liquid.
Three of the most widely used egg yolk pigmenters are:

Canthaxanin or Canthaxanthin which appears to be an unsafe additive. It can cause diarrhoea, nausea, stomach cramps, dry and itchy skin, hives, orange or red body secretions, and other side effects.

Do not use canthaxanthin if you experience breathing problems; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, tongue or throat; a skin rash or hives; you are pregnant or breast-feeding or you are allergic to vitamin A or carotenoids.

Capsicum  Allergic reactions to capsicum may occur. Stop eating eggs with capsicum-based colouring and seek emergency medical attention if you experience symptoms of a serious allergic reaction including difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives.

Other less serious side effects have also been reported. Talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider if you experience upset stomach; heartburn; diarrhoea; migraine attacks or burning sensation in the mouth or throat.

Use of Capsicum is not recommended if you are pregnant. If you are or will be breast-feeding while eating food containing Capsicum, check with your doctor or pharmacist to discuss the risks to your baby.

Capsicum colourings can bring on anaphylactic shock. See details from the University of Maryland:

Marigold Some people experience breathing problems, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, tongue or throat. A skin rash or hives may occur.

From the Auckland Allergy Clinic
Article written: September 2001

Salicylate sensitivity is the body’s inability to handle more than a certain amount of salicylates at any one time. A salicylate sensitive person may have difficulty tolerating certain fruits or vegetables.

What are salicylates?

Salicylate is a natural chemical made by many plants. It is chemically related to aspirin, which is a derivative of salicylic acid. It is believed the plant uses it as protection from insects, and they are everywhere around us.

Although natural salicylates are found in wholesome foods, some individuals have difficulty tolerating even small amounts of them. The reaction to a natural salicylate can be as severe as that to a synthetic additive if the person is highly sensitive. Some people are troubled by only a very few, but some are troubled by all of them.

What is salicylate sensitivity?

Some adults and children have a low level of tolerance to salicylates and may get symptoms that are dose-related. The tolerated amount varies from one person to another. This is an example of food intolerance.

What are some of the symptoms of Salicylate Intolerance?

Trigger for Eczema


Nasal Polyps


Rhino conjunctivitis

Stomach aches and upsets

Foods containing Salicylates

Salicylates occur naturally in many fruits, and vegetables as a preservative, to prevent rotting and protect against harmful bacteria and fungi. They are stored in the bark, leaves, roots, and seeds of plants. Salicylates are found naturally in many foods and its compounds are used in many products.

All fresh meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, cereals, bread are naturally low in salicylates

Foods with very high Salicylate content include:

Hot Peppers

Capsaicin is the active component of Capsicum. Pure capsaicin is a volatile, hydrophobic, colourless, odourless, crystalline to waxy compound.

Capsaicin Factsheet

A UK report on The Adverse Effects of Food Additives on Health, published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine described surveys on food intolerance which showed that as many as 2 in 10 people believe that they react badly to certain foods or to their constituents, whereas less than 2 in every 100 has been considered to be the official figure.
However, a recently published report indicates that small children are much more likely to react to certain foods. Although the exact numbers are not known, surveys suggest that one child in 10 may be affected in some way
Of the nearly 4000 different additives currently in use, over 3640 are used purely for cosmetic reasons and as colouring agents.

The continued reason for the use of additives is based on the argument that they are present in foods on such a minute scale that they must be harmless.

This argument may be almost acceptable regarding additives with a reversible toxicological action. However, with additives which have been found to be both mutagenic and carcinogenic, neither the human nor animal body is able to detoxify. Therefore even very minute doses of these additives, when consumed continuously, will eventually result in an irreversible toxic burden, resulting finally in cancer formation and/or in chromosomal and foetal damage. This is unacceptable, particularly as the majority of these dangerous agents belong to the food colouring group.

The full report is available here:

An allergy is a hypersensitity disorder of the immune system. Allergic reactions occur when a person's immune system reacts to normally harmless substances in the environment. A substance that causes a reaction is called an allergen. These reactions are acquired, predictable, and rapid. Allergy is one of four forms of hypersensitivity and is formally called type 1 hypersensitivity. Allergic reactions are distinctive because of excessive activation of certain white blood cells.

Mild allergies like hay fever are very common in humans but allergies can play a major role in conditions such as asthma. In some people, severe allergies to environmental or dietary allergens may result in life-threatening reactions called anaphylaxis.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Coles awards for big corporate egg producers

Here's an article from the Bendigo Advertiser.

Bears Lagoon (near Bendigo) chicken farm Novo Farm Pride has been announced as one of three overall winners of the Coles Brand Supplier of the Year.

It won the award with two other egg producers, Queensland’s Sunny Queen and New South Wales’ Pace Farm, because of its moves to sell cage-free eggs.

Novo Farm Pride opened another three state-of-the-art sheds in October last year, doubling the amount of birds at the operation to 180,000.

The company has worked with Coles to define the free-range standard for eggs.

"Free-range eggs have been growing double digits every year for the past five to 10 years, so through discussions with Coles we worked together to expand the farms capacity," national sales and marketing manager Ian Savenake said.

"We have been able to hold sessions and work with Coles to define the free-range standard and meet consumer demand for our welfare-friendly eggs.

"The award is recognition for the whole team from the farmers to people on the grading floor, to admin, to sales." Coles merchandise director John Durkan said the producers had shown leadership in the egg industry by making the move to produce cage-free eggs.

If these eggs were labelled as cage free there would be no issue with consumers or the free range sector of the egg industry. But they are labelled as free range which does not meet consumer expectations or the standards of legimate free range ergg farmers.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Dead hens no health risk

The Shire of Gingin in WA says there are no health risks from an incident where 250 dead chickens spilled on to Gingin roads from a truck last week.

Gingin CEO Jeremy Edwards said the Shire had contacted the contractor who was transporting the chickens to a Moora facility.

He said the chickens were cleared from roads quickly.

"They were cleaned up by our operations crew and rangers and the company that owned the chickens also responded in a timely manner," he said.

Mr Edwards said the Shire had issued the contractor with an infringement notice for an unsecure load.

"About 250 chickens out of 12,000 being transported fell off," Mr Edwards said. The Shire and egg producer AAA Eggs will meet tomorrow for further mediation on a development proposal to build a free-range poultry farm for 300,000 chickens in a rural zoned area in Wanerie. The Shire refused the application but the State Administrative Tribunal is reviewing the plan.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Egg Farm Biosecurity

Work on an Egg Farm Biosecurity Manual is nearing completion, according to Duncan Rowland, Executive Manager Biosecurity Services at Animal Health Australia.

“Over the past few months AHA has been working with its industry members to update their on-farm biosecurity manuals. Recent industry endorsed publications include a Farm Biosecurity Manual for the Duck Meat Industry; Grazing Industries Biosecurity Reference Manual (covering cattle, sheep, goats and alpaca) and a Pork Biosecurity Reference Manual,” Dr Rowland said.

We wonder who he has been talking to in the egg industry?

Court action in Europe over cages

There are still some major problems in Europe following the ban on unenriched cages for the egg industry.

Greece and Italy in particular have caused headaches for the European Commission and the behaviour of those countries in ignoring the ban has been handed to the European Court of Justice.

Following the compliance deadline, there were many complaints from businesses which complied with the new regulations about those countries that failed to replace their conventional battery cages.

Compassion in World Farming reports that Italy and Greece have 20 million hens confined in barren battery cased, despite the 10 year period given for the January 2012 deadline. This has clearly resulted in unfair competition throughout Europe.

The European Commission is taking the two countries to the Court of Justice over their failure to implement Directive 1999/74/EC banning “un-enriched cages.”