Rebekha Sharkkie MP’s Competition and Consumer Amendment (Free Range Eggs) Bill 2018

Last year the Coalition Government made new labelling information standard for free range eggs. This will ensure that consumers have the information they need to make a choice based on their personal preferences when buying eggs.

For the first time, producers who choose to label their eggs ‘free range’ will be required to disclose how many hens per hectare they stock.

The information standard was developed after extensive consultation with consumer representatives and egg producers. It is intended to provide greater clarity to consumers about free range egg claims and reduce the regulatory uncertainty faced by egg producers. Compliance with the information standard will be mandatory from 26 April 2018. Producers who choose to use the term ‘free range’ will be required to comply with the maximum 10,000 hens per hectare stocking density limit. Supplying goods that do not comply with an information standard is an offence under the Australian Consumer Law and producers may be subject to penalties of up to $1.1 million.

The information standard requires that eggs labelled ‘free range’ have their stocking density prominently displayed on packaging. It is up to producers to decide what stocking density they use during production. For example, producers may apply a 1,500 or 8,000 hens per hectare label provided it is accurate. Consumers who prefer eggs from hens with a lower stocking density will be able to easily compare eggs on supermarket shelves and make an informed choice.

The information standard also requires free range egg producers to provide hens with meaningful access to the outdoor range on a regular basis. Eggs will not be allowed to be marketed as ‘free range’ if this requirement is not satisfied.

Animal welfare issues relation to poultry are being considered by Agriculture Ministers separately as part of the review of the Model Code for Poultry, which is currently available for public consultation.

Personally I always purchase free range eggs. I believe the best way to take a stance is to only go to restaurants and cafes that use free range eggs as they use a significant number of eggs.