Shoppers who buy certified organic not only get truly free range eggs, they’re also buying eggs that are produced without artificial colour additives, antibiotics and synthetic agrichemicals.
This reminder comes in the wake of CHOICE filing a ‘super complaint’ to the NSW Fair Trading Minister calling for the standardisation of labelling for free-range eggs, and the announcement by Woolworths that it will phase out the sale of eggs from caged hens by 2018 and use caged eggs in their own brand products.
Australian Organic standards convenor, Owen Gwilliam believes the term free range can mislead consumers,with some egg producers not keeping to the standards that consumers expect.
There is disunity in the egg industry about the definition of free range with some organisations allowing up to 20,000 birds per hectare.
Owen says, “The Australian Certified Organic Standard has the most stringent stocking rates and animal welfare and environmental management requirements.”
To use the Australian Certified Organic Bud logo, egg farmers can’t stock more than 1500 birds per hectare if set stocking or up to 2500 birds per hectare for layers on pasture rotations. These are equal to the strictest
interpretations of any of the varying free range standards available in the market place.
Now worth $1.27 billion dollars to Australia, the growth of the organic industry suggests consumers are willing to pay the price for real food that is farmed with environmentally friendly practices and a concern for animal welfare.
Simon Cripps-Clarke from Organigrow produces 500 dozen eggs a day from his farm in Lismore, New South
Wales. He says, “Being certified organic is firstly about animal welfare. We run a stocking density of 600 birds per hectare [which is lower than the stringent certified organic stocking density]. To be certified organic you must also look after biodiversity. We have plenty of trees, bushes and natural shade for the birds and they are on lush pasture. If you have a high stocking rate you will lose ground cover quickly.
“We are also required to buy certified organic feed that’s been produced without synthetic agrichemicals or GM. Our farm is audited once a year to make sure it complies with the organic standards.”
Australian Organic media Kathy Cogo 07 4771 371407 4771 3714 | 0466 015 1830466 015 183. Images available