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Thread: Let's talk about free-range eggs

  1. #1

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    Default Let's talk about free-range eggs

    So after a grocery trip where we bought, among other things, eggs, it got me thinking.

    I noticed a lot of packs that said "free-range". There's a lot now. Some (few!) are RSCPA or Certified Organic or FREPA accredited. But I also noticed most have no logos, nothing that 'certified' it or authenticated the free-range statement.



    So... who is to say that they are actually free-range? I know it's illegal to false-advertise, but since theres no standard, then what is false advertising?

    I also noticed some that have the RSPCA logo, and havig read about the RSPCA standard, I think if I had to choose between one that stated free-range with no stamps or 'certification', and one that stated barn laid with the RSPCA logo, I'd probably choose barn-laid. Just because I know there is an actual RSPCA standard that they'd have to meet. With nothing to tell me about the standards of the uncertified un-logo'd eggs, well... do I just assume they don't meet any of the standards?

    What do you think?

  2. #2

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    funny you should start this thread cause i just got home from shopping and was at the egg fridge for nearly 10 mins trying to choose which ones to get as my usual certified organic and free range eggs werent there
    I actually noticed the same thing that lots were labled 'free range' - even the cheaper ones (the ones i buy are pretty exxy) so i was quite warey of buying them. I eventually settled for some certified free range locally produced eggs which i will probably stick to now (if they taste good) as they are from a local farm.
    Anyway - i'm not much help but i am interested in what others know about it.

    I was also wondering about cows milk after seeing the eggs - like i am a bit clueless on these things - but what about dairy cows? Are they free range too? Cause milk varies in cost so much too. I'm such a dumbo, so sorry for the weird minded question

  3. #3

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    Actually, not to get all down on this, but there's been a fair bit of coverage lately about how there's more eggs labelled 'free range' than are actually produced. Most of the major egg producers (certified or no) have been caught out putting non-free range eggs in with their free range eggs when they don't have enough. It's not monitored, so it's a marketing exercise as much as anything.

    RSPCA accreditation has been criticised in the past for not really being reliable. They did a documentary some years ago where animal activists went into a so-called RSPCA accredited facility to film the appalling conditions. The RSPCA is paid for their accreditation, which in my view constitutes a huge conflict of interest. One of the issues is that RSPCA is only taken to some facilities to accredit, but then, when the producer needs to top up the supplies, they just use any old eggs.

    You have to also check for whether free range is actually ranging free, or kept in a barn, etc.

    When we used to buy free range I would try and choose eggs from a local supplier, while I can't be sure they are really free range unless I take a drive out there, at least I'm avoiding the issues I just mentioned (and theoretically I could drive for an hour to go and check).

    Then we switched to true free range - we got our own chickens! I love our girls, they're so low maintenance and watching them walk around the yard amusing themselves most of the time makes me feel really sorry for all the other chickens.

    PS At the moment 'Australian certified organic' with the correct logo is the only accreditation that seems to be gaining momentum and has some assurance in terms of checking, audits, etc. And for the record, I do some work in this area, so I have looked into it a bit.

    MrsB26: have a look at the Choice article from earlier this year about milk. Puts you off a lot of them, that's for sure! We buy organic milk too now, and I love that there are chunks of cream swimming in the milk when it comes out of the carton. Tastes much better too.
    Last edited by Jennifer13; September 25th, 2010 at 11:25 AM.

  4. #4

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    Hey Leash,
    How funny, I was just reading this in The West Australian (WA Newspaper)



    Egg on face over alleged false advertisingAAP, The West Australian September 24, 2010, 3:25 pm Buzz up!

    A West Australian egg company that allegedly falsely advertised their eggs as free-range for more than four years will face charges in the Perth Federal Court.

    The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has begun proceedings against the company C I & Co and its owners Antonio and Anna Pisano for allegedly contravening the Trade Practices Act.

    The ACCC alleges that for two years between 2006 and 2008 the company labelled and marketed cartons of eggs using the words "free-range eggs" when the contents were not actually free-range.

    From April to June this year, Mr and Ms Pisano began labelling their eggs as 'Fresh-Range Omega-3' creating the impression that the eggs were free-range when they were not, the ACCC allege.

    The case will be heard on October 25.

  5. #5

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    When I do buy eggs, I go to the local farmer's market and actually speak to the people selling the eggs, yes I've been a strange one in a business suit, asking about the chickens, their living arrangements/conditions/treatment/feed etc like I was some hippy

    As I have food allergies, I have to be careful about what I eat and I'm even to the point careful about what the things I eat .... eat, IYKWIM.

  6. #6

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    I don't buy RSPCA for this reason either, and I'm sick of seeing the word stamped on everything because I just KNOW there are not that many facilities for true free range eggs. Barn laid doesn't thrill me either - you can jam thousands of chickens into a barn with no sunlight - big deal.

    The eggs with the chook eating on the certification is rare but appears to be the most trustworthy.

    At the moment I have ecoeggs and they have pics on their website of their farms. I didn't buy them for awhile because they come in packs of 10 and it's a bit [email protected] They also come from interstate and I'd rather them not have to travel so far. Can't win 'em all I suppose.

    The search for local free range continues....

  7. #7

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    Interesting topic. My DP was on local ABC Radio recently talking about eggs. The NSW Food Authority has recently brought about legislation which makes it virtually impossible for any small egg producer to continue producing eggs. This will put a lot of small free range, organic farmers out of business as it has done locally with 3 organic, free range egg producers. What it's enabled is large producers such as Pace Farms to monopolise the industry and free range certification has become relaxed because of this. Egg producers can now claim "free range" with chickens roaming free but in crowded sheds. We have one local egg producer who farms 240,000 chickens in sheds that is classified "free range". A long shot from what most people consider to be free range huh.

    Your best bet.... buying from farmers markets where you can talk to the producer about farming practises, or having your own backyard chooks. I've opted for the latter

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sopdet View Post
    When I do buy eggs, I go to the local farmer's market and actually speak to the people selling the eggs, yes I've been a strange one in a business suit, asking about the chickens, their living arrangements/conditions/treatment/feed etc like I was some hippy

    As I have food allergies, I have to be careful about what I eat and I'm even to the point careful about what the things I eat .... eat, IYKWIM.
    I'm the annoying takeaway customer who checks the free range status of chicken and pork and eggs in pizza, burgers, sandwiches and so on. I figure, if you don't ask, how will they know customers want it? At the butchers as well, I like to know that they know the farms they source their meat from. In our area I'm lucky. It's not cheap, but our local gourmet pizza place uses all free range and so do many of our local chicken takeaway places. One just switched from Lilydale free range to LaIonica and I am going to go in and tell them I won't buy from them anymore.

  9. #9

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    Lulu - I have more eggs than I can use, I'm selling around 3 1/2 doz / week at work - happy to meet you and sell you my eggs from my girls My beautiful girls who love to follow my little man around the back yard.

  10. #10

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    Can you move near me Kazbah? We can't have chickens, being a rental in a smallish suburban block We're moving to a rural black soon, enough room for a milking cow (WOOHOO!) and some chickens. Not that Shel would let me have chooks, she thinks they stink. I sort of agree, but they are pretty functional too.

  11. #11

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    I have my own chooks for this very reason. I can not buy eggs that are produced in such inhumane conditions. Even so called free range are not the same as farm free range - these chooks still have a restricted amount of space, and probably don't get to green pick forage like a 'normal' chook.
    I know it's not possible for everyone to have home grown eggs, I am not saying that either.

  12. #12

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    Chooks don't stink. They can make a bit of a mess with droppings if you've got a paved area, but nothing that won't sweep away. No need on grass/garden.

    I only have a normal suburban style block, nothing huge and we live in a rental. But I agree your new rural setting sounds much more suitable! We have three chooks and they are the easiest, least messy pets I've ever had. Except for maybe a cat. They even put themselves to bed at night. And like Kaz's, they follow us around when we're outside. I suspect mostly for their interest in being fed, but still!

  13. #13

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    We get ours from local farmers markets as well or my mum and dad who have 4 girls! With J's egg allergy though I haven't been using anywhere near the amount we used to so the ones I do get last us a while.

  14. #14

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    Jennifer - I have to ask about a multitude of things when I get take away. I discovered my fave fish and chip shop is now a no-go zone for me because of their cooking practices (which have changed since the last time I bought cooked stuff from there).

    I am in love with my butcher because they know my feelings on things and will always point me towards the best choices they have, they're organic and make their smallgoods on site.

    I will have to go to the trouble of finding new places once I move.

    Kaz - I will be buying eggs from you

  15. #15

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    Just subscribing cause I'm interested. I make an effort to read the cartons, I don't think barn laid is all that great either.
    There would ahve to be somewhere near me that sells real free range... might be time to look into it.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by deesalie View Post
    Interesting topic. My DP was on local ABC Radio recently talking about eggs. The NSW Food Authority has recently brought about legislation which makes it virtually impossible for any small egg producer to continue producing eggs. This will put a lot of small free range, organic farmers out of business as it has done locally with 3 organic, free range egg producers. What it's enabled is large producers such as Pace Farms to monopolise the industry and free range certification has become relaxed because of this. Egg producers can now claim "free range" with chickens roaming free but in crowded sheds. We have one local egg producer who farms 240,000 chickens in sheds that is classified "free range". A long shot from what most people consider to be free range huh.

    Your best bet.... buying from farmers markets where you can talk to the producer about farming practises, or having your own backyard chooks. I've opted for the latter
    Grrrr - I HATE pace farms. - Go on people head to the Farmers Markets to support the REAL free range producers!

    Kazbah, I will take you up on that - I'm still hoping to get my own chickens, but it looks like I might have to take in mums dog (cos I don't have enough to do yanno) and I don't think my anal retentive housemate is going to like me building another menagerie...

  17. #17

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    I love the idea of having your own chickens! What do you need to do to set up for chickens? How many eggs does a chicken produce a week? How do you choose a chicken?

  18. #18

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    Exactly why we have our own chookies... I just find it hard to trust that I'm actually getting real free-range from the shops. I know my girls are happy, healthy and chemical and hormone free. And they don't stink at all, they're very clean themselves and the droppings are a cinch to clear out - and do wonders for the vegie patch!

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