SHANE Rattenbury has rejected comments made by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) claiming there is no need for a national standard for free range egg production.
“This lack of leadership from the ACCC is a disappointing step backwards in an area of food production and animal welfare that has gained substantial momentum in recent years,” Shane said.
“There is a community expectation that when you buy free range eggs, those eggs are from hens that are housed in a humane way that allows them to roam in paddocks, with access to fresh air and space to stretch their wings.
“But the truth of the matter is that there are simply not enough controls at a national level to ensure that when consumers purchase eggs they can be sure of where they are coming from, it is confusing and at times, misleading.
“In 2010 the ACT Greens introduced egg labelling legislation to force supermarkets to clearly identify which eggs were free range, barn and battery caged. This was a progressive step to assist consumers in making more informed choices when purchasing eggs.
“But standards need to be imposed at a national level to ensure that the process, as well as the labelling, is transparent and consumers can make informed choices when purchasing eggs.
“To claim there is no need for a national standard is irresponsible and out of touch with community expectations.
“The industry itself agrees that they would benefit from the level of certainty that would come from national standards for production. The current arrangement sees a range of industry bodies setting voluntary certification standards that are not enforceable.
“A national standard that includes a maximum sticking density and a set of easily enforceable standards of housing is something we can achieve, and are already on our way to achieving.
“Claiming that it is a “common sense definition” is clearly out of touch with reality and out of touch with community expectations.
Photo by John Loo, attribution licence]