Consumer advocate group, Choice, is urging consumers to boycott 19 egg brands following a decision by consumer affairs ministers to introduce a national information standard for free-range egg production.
State and federal consumer affairs ministers introduced a national information standard for free-range egg production on Thursday, which gives farmers clearance to label their eggs 'free range' should they run no more than 10,000 hens per hectare.
Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey called the new standards "preposterous" and instead wanted ministers to follow CSIRO guidelines which recommends for the label to be allocated to farmers who run no more than 1500 hens per hectare.
The new guidelines also recommend that hens have meaningful and regular access to an outdoor range.
Mr Godfrey said the 19 brands under this boycott, which includes Aldi, Coles and Woolworths brands, have an outdoor stocking density of up to 10,000 hens per hectare.
“Unfortunately, consumer affairs ministers today voted to lock-in misleading free-range egg labels, and that is why we are calling for consumers to boycott these products,” Mr Godfrey said.
“Eggs that come from hens that don’t go outside and have high stocking densities don’t meet consumers’ expectations and don’t deserve the free-range label.
"Because of this, we are calling on consumers to boycott bad eggs that have an outdoor stocking density of up to 10,000 hens per hectare."
NSW Innovation and Better Regulation Minister, Victor Dominello, welcomed the agreement.
“NSW brought forward a proposal at the last CAF meeting in June to develop a draft national information standard which won the support of the ministers around the table,” Mr Dominello said.
“I am pleased that we were able to achieve a sensible outcome today which will enable consumers to make more informed purchasing decisions.
“About 13 million eggs are consumed each day in Australia and demand is continuing to grow. Eggs labelled as free range sell at a premium and our decision today means consumers can be sure they’ve got what they’ve paid for.”
In a statement issued on Thursday, federal Small Business Minister Kelly O'Dwyer welcomed the new standard said it "provides certainty for farmers which will help encourage innovation and investment in the industry".
Choice has a buyers guide for eggs on its website.
The boycott list
Choice is calling consumers to boycott the following free-range egg producers:
- Aldi Lodge Farm
- Coles Free Range Eggs
- Country Fresh
- Eco Eggs
- Farm Pride
- Field Fresh
- Western Australia Golden Eggs
- Manning Valley
- Meggles Farm
- Misty Mountain
- Pace Farm
- Pace Omega 3
- South Gippsland
- Woolworths Select
- Essential Foods
- with AAP