ACCC Busts Provider For Lying About Free-Range Eggs

When I was eating caged eggs as part of the Mastercheap experiment last year, I copped a fair amount of abuse from readers for considering anything other than a free-range option. A court case that concluded last week reminds us that unethical practices can occur when selling free-range food.

WA egg suppliers C&I Co have copped a $50,000 fine after two years of selling eggs labelled as "free range", where, in the ACCC's careful turn of phrase, "a substantial proportion of the eggs were not free range". As Justice North noted:

The conduct was also extremely difficult to detect because, once the eggs were placed in the cartons, it was impossible to determine whether they were free range or not.

Doubtless a regular consumer of free-range eggs would notice a taste difference, and it's good to see that the ACCC takes a hard line with these kinds of attempts at deliberate deception. It's also a useful reminder that the most reliable way to get free-range eggs would be to keep chooks yourself.

ACCC


Comments

    Lol wow, we brought home new chickens about an hour ago (All seven we had were taken out by a fox(?) while we were on holidays :( ). Not sure I notice any taste difference compared to battery eggs from the store, but it feels better having them (yay for elitist sentiments).

    +10 Kudos to the ACCC, I do so love when companies are kept accountable.

      Backyard chook eggs is a million times better than store bought eggs. Better flavour and yolk. Plus its cheaper and you get happier hens in return.

      It's a great feeling great having the chooks running around in our city backyard scratching and making funny sounds as they follow you around the backyard.

    Had about a dozen chickens when my siblings and I were young. Used to give away trays of eggs every week. If my landlord let me have chickens I would get a couple. Freshly laid eggs for breakfast sounds good.

    I have some pure bred Sussex chickens and their eggs taste great. it is a pretty endangered breed so i hatch chicks and sell them when they are close to point of lay..

    I have heard of people swapping eggs in the supermarket which is just downright nasty.

    Not only do they end up paying less, someone who thinks they are getting free-range ends up with cage eggs.

      The money still goes to the cage farm. How sad. :(

    The difference between battery and free range hens?
    About four chickens per square metre.

    As another commenter mentioned, 'free range' labelling is no guarantee of ethical production. In many places, all that's required for eggs to be free range is that the hens have 'access' to an outdoor area - a small door to a few dozen square metres of bare dirt between 10,000 hens will often be enough to satisfy the accreditors.

    Also, neither free range labelling nor RSPCA labelling requires that producers refrain from debeaking, which is arguably more cruel and painful than the over-crowding associated with battery production.

      at least their legs are moving. Lesser of two evils.

    To put the fine into perspective, with a price premium of about $2.50/dozen it's more cost effective to lie about being free range, even if you get caught, as long as you can sell more than 10000 cartons a year.

    regardless of the space constraints , "chickens" are excessively imbred Red Jungle Fowl with a bonus feature built into them (by us) of performing a faux pregnancy and birth(expelling the egg) every two days or so. If this wasn't horrendous enough on its own it depletes a massive amount of nutrients from the birds body.

    We breed these screwed up birds and virtually every species we have meddled with has had awful consequences . This database details the defects we've bred into wolves in making them our "companions" http://www.upei.ca/cidd/intro.htm and we discover more of these defects all the time.

      On the plus side, if we hadn't selectively bred them for eggs, we would've wiped them out for meat.

      You're right, let all domesticated animals die and we'll move the entire earth to a vegan, companion-animal-free lifestyle. /eyeroll

      So selective breeding is bad? My dogs seem perfecty healthy and happy. Isn't there a PETA forum for you to go on rather than here?

    Wow. $50k. My god.
    I think they'll stop their unethical practice.

    My rule of thumb is, if you're paying too much, you're probably getting the real thing.
    $6.50 per dozen is average for Free Range around here...

    I remember reading a study a year or so back that worked out that there was something like 50%-60% MORE 'free range" eggs being sold than was physically possible.

    Registered free range producers couldn't provide enough eggs to match what was being sold by shops... meaning battery eggs were being sold as free range, and a huge markup.

    Will try to find the article again.

    For those looking for more information about shopping ethically, try:

    http://www.ethical.org.au/

    They even have an iphone app version of their ehtical shopping guide.

      Who's 'ethics' are these??

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