Supermarkets aren’t meeting the mark on free range eggs

You spend ages looking at the stacks of eggs in the aisle of your supermarket, zeroing in on the carton
Eggs in the package on wooden table

You spend ages looking at the stacks of eggs in the aisle of your supermarket, zeroing in on the carton that says ‘free range’ so that you can say you’re doing your bit for animal welfare and because eggs laid by chickens who haven’t been cramped in their cages all day taste better anyway.

But a major investigation by Fairfax has revealed that if you shop at the major supermarkets there’s a good chance those free range eggs at your house are the ‘genuine’ article.

Fairfax visited five supermarkets across the country — two Woolworths, two Coles and an IGA, and discovered that out of 30 products claiming to be ‘free range’ only three actually met the definition as endorsed by the CSIRO and the RSPCA.

To come to this conclusion the investigation used an app developed by consumer advocate Choice called ‘CluckAR‘; a revolutionary little tool to support the group’s tireless campaigning for improved and more meaningful labelling in relation to free range eggs.

The worst performer in this experiment was Woolies, which had not one single brand that met the code. That includes the home brand and select ranges labelled ‘free range’ in case you were wondering.

According to the research, Woolies and Coles get their ‘free range’ eggs from producers who have a stocking density of 10,000 birds per hectare, which is the legal maximum allowed for eggs to be labelled ‘free range’. However, a CSIRO draft code backed by the RSPCA outlines no more than 1,500 hens per hectare is a more suitable ‘free range’ measurement and this is the standard Choice and CluckAR is going by when it defines ‘genuine’ free range eggs.

Aldi also comes under fire for continuing to sell own-brand cage eggs. It’s ‘free range’ eggs do not meet the standard either.

But it was great news for IGA, which had one brand labelled ‘free range’ meet the CSIRO/RSPCA standard.

Do you buy ‘free range’ eggs at the supermarket? Do you think supermarkets need to follow the CSIRO/RSPCA guidelines or is the legal definition of ‘free range’ satisfactory?