The Animal Welfare Labels (www.animalwelfarelabels.org.au) website has been developed to help take the confusion and guesswork out of all the terms and labels that consumers are faced with by presenting common conditions in standards for welfare-focused cattle, sheep, pig, and poultry certification schemes. It gives consumers the opportunity to see the detail of the standards behind the label.
Australian Egg Corporation has announced to its members that it does not endorse such a guide and suggests that there is little benefit in being a part of it. That is a slap in the face to consumers who would like to make informed decisions and to the true free range producers who are proud of their standards and want to reach markets that are seeking higher welfare outcomes.
“When the egg industry is facing such turbulent times over labelling issues, one would have thought this website would be embraced by industry and be seen as a golden opportunity to provide clarity and transparency for claims made on egg cartons,” says Lee McCosker of Humane Choice. “Humane Choice is a participant on this website because it provides a chance for producers to showcase their production system and define the husbandry and housing they employ on their farms."
Misleading claims abound when it comes to labelling free range products and the animalwelfarelabels.org.au website is a one stop shop that allows consumers to compare brands and accreditation bodies.
We would encourage all free range egg producers who are proud of their production standards to add their information to the website, in spite of AECL suggesting there is no benefit. The only one not to benefit from this site is AECL and their outrageous idea of what constitutes free range.
“This site is the only place you can compare production standards and it illustrates the gap between real free range and the industrialised version of free range,” says Ms McCosker. “We are urging producers to add their weight to the free range debate by adding their standards to Animal Welfare Labels in spite of Australian Egg Corporation’s suggestion that there is no benefit. If you are a small producer working to high welfare standards this may be your last chance to be differentiated from farms with 40,000 hens per hectare."