Egg labelling problems
The State government's food watchdog has posted confusing and wrong information about free-range egg labelling on its website, according to the consumer body Choice.
The NSW Food Authority announced on Friday it had responded to calls for transparent information on egg labelling and farming practices with a new online page which would enable consumers to make informed choices, but Choice spokesperson Ingrid Just said it contained serious flaws.
Consumers are prepared to pay a premium of $3 to $5 a dozen for free-range eggs, but in the absence of a standard for the industry, the website listing producers who are certified under a variety of voluntary codes lumps together those whose hens are crowded together with those able to roam, she said.
''If you were going to buy free-range eggs and ensure that they met your expectations of free-range, you'd have to stand in front of the shelves, have a smartphone, navigate the site, expand and collapse the drop-down menus on your phone and read the information,'' Ms Just said.
''Imagine a busy mum, who just wants to buy eggs from hens she believes are happy and scratching around, roaming freely and undergoing normal chook-like behaviours,'' she said.
''Consumers take between three and five seconds to choose a product off the shelf - so whilst it's information, it's not user-friendly and it's not helping consumers at that point of sale when they're making the critical selection.''
The web page also fails consumers because it uses an incorrect interpretation of the model code of practice for animal welfare which, according to Choice, sets a maximum outdoor stocking density for free range of 1500 birds a hectare, Ms Just said.
However, the food authority's public affairs manager Deborah Smith disagreed.
The authority stood by its interpretation of stocking density under the code of practice, she said.
The Australian Financial Review
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.