There has long been an issue about what is a free range egg. Consumers have been confused, as has the egg industry.
Well, hopefully that is one issue which has been addressed, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) National Information Standard on Free Range Eggs becoming operational on 26 April 2018.
The Standard requires that egg producers meet specific criteria if they want to use “free range” in either words or images on their packaging and in promotion.
The primary criteria is that there must be no more than 10000 hens per hectare, and that these hens must have “meaningful and regular” access to the outdoors. This outdoor access must be during the laying cycle and in daylight, which will allow the hens to roam and forage.
The actual interpretation of what is ‘meaningful” is not clearly explained and so could be a potential loophole.
The ACCC Chairman, Rod Sims said; “The guidance helps explains what could be considered misleading and deceptive conduct when it comes to the new free range standard. If egg producers use images, pictures, or words, other than free range, that imply their eggs are free range when they are not, this would likely raise concerns under the Australian Consumer Law.The ACCC is monitoring the market to ensure that free range claims are truthful and accurate and will continue to take action against those that don’t.”
Consumers have been confused and many have had the feeling that they may have been not getting actual free range eggs, even though they pay a premium for them. With the new Standard in place from april, it is hoped that this confusion will be relieved.
Even though we now have a clear definition of what is required to be able to say that eggs are free range, there is still a strong push to change that definition. Choice is advocating that the number of hens per hectare should be dramatically reduced to a maximum of 1500.
This is obviously still an ongoing issue.
The new Standard can be found at