Humane Choice has taken an unprecedented stand in support of small free range producers nationally and today has shone the spotlight on the Australian egg industry’s peak industry body Australian Egg Corporation (Egg Corp) and the inequity of its Egg Corp Assured program. The industry owned quality assurance program is to come under scrutiny for its bias towards large producers and the misuse of their Egg Corp Assured Trademark.
“Egg Corp has taken advantage of producer and consumer confusion over standards, codes of practice, production definitions and accreditation logos for far too long,” stated Chief Operating Officer for Humane Choice, Lee McCosker. “We have Codes of Practice in place for animal welfare and environmental management for free range egg production that make a very clear statement about what the acceptable stocking density is for free range hens and that is 1500 birds per hectare. Stocking rates are not ‘uncapped’ as Egg Corp would have us believe.”
Egg Corp administers the Egg Corp Assured program that licences producers to use their logo on egg cartons. The quality assurance program operates under a certification trademark and as such indicates to consumers that the eggs carrying that logo meet a particular standard. In this case, that producers meet the requirements of the Model Code of Practice for Animal Welfare – Domestic Poultry.
In recent media, Egg Corp have acknowledged that their audits have revealed free range stocking densities in excess of 50,000 birds per hectare.
Egg Corp is in breach of their own standards and rules of their quality assurance program and has allowed producers to misrepresent their product. Egg Corp have effectively licensed producers to deceive the public into believing that all eggs labelled free range and carrying the Egg Corp Assured logo act within the guidelines of the Code of Practice when this is generally not the case.