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What retailers need to know about free range egg laws

April 27, 2018

From April 26, egg producers, supermarkets and egg re-sellers must be sure that the labelling on all ‘free range’ eggs lives up to the new standards, applied under Australian Consumer Law (ACL). The new laws have been put in place to ensure egg labelling is transparent and shoppers are getting what they pay for

Do you sell eggs? Here’s what you need to know about the new information standard

Free range egg producers in Australia are now bound by a new information standard, applied under Australian Consumer Law (ACL). The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) can prosecute those who break the rules. It is important that egg re-sellers, such as cafes or other food retailers, do not make false claims about their eggs either. 

The laws

The laws are summarised in three key points.

  1. Outdoors: Eggs labelled as ‘free range’ must have been laid by hens with meaningful and regular access to the outdoors, where they are free to roam and forage outside during daylight hours.
  2. Stocking density: The hens must be subject to a stocking density of 10,000 hens or less per hectare – the equivalent of one hen per square metre.
  3. Disclosure: Producers must prominently disclose the outdoor stocking density of hens laying free range eggs on their packaging. This allows consumers to easily compare different brands of eggs labelled as ‘free range’.
Under the new free range egg laws, producers must “prominently state” their stocking density on egg cartons. Image source: ABC News

Unpackaged eggs, like those sold at farmers’ markets, must be accompanied by signage with the stocking density printed on it. Images and words will be taken into account when producers are marketing their eggs (ABC News).

False claims

If a producer claims that their eggs are free range when they’re not, they could be prosecuted for misleading and deceptive conduct.

“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,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims.

The ACCC has stated it is monitoring the market to ensure free range claims are truthful and accurate and will take action against any producers or re-sellers who make false claims about their eggs.

Retailers, are you prepared?

The ACCC has produced a guide to help egg producers and re-sellers understand their fair trading rights and obligations when promoting or selling eggs as ‘free range’.

To view the full ACCC guide to free range chicken egg claims, click here.

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