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Queensland flies the coop

Free-range standards undermined following Queensland's backflip

24 July 2013

CHOICE says the Queensland Government’s backflip on free-range egg stocking density has scrambled its own standard, leaving consumers in a flap.
It has emerged that the Queensland Government stealthily altered its own free-range standard and increased stocking densities to 10,000 birds per hectare. 
“We’re calling on consumers to flock together and voice their concerns about this latest threat to a common free-range standard for eggs in Australia,” says CHOICE Director of Campaigns and Communications, Matt Levey.
“Queensland was the national leader when it came to free-range egg standards, having set a legal maximum of 1,500 birds per hectare for eggs sold under the ‘free-range’ label. But now the government has changed the amount to 10,000 birds per hectare - a whopping 667% increase.” 
“Consumers have shown they are willing to pay a premium for ‘free-range’ eggs and yet changes like this make the term meaningless. This latest move by the Queensland government has jeopardised consumers’ ability to make informed purchasing decisions.”
Currently the national Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals specifies a maximum of 1,500 birds per hectare. This Code is now undergoing a review; however the decision by Queensland pre-empts these efforts.
The change to stocking density has flown under the radar with many consumers in Queensland likely to be unaware of the new free-range standard.
“The increasing number of consumers who wish to buy free-range eggs, and often pay a premium, should be able to do so with confidence,” says Mr Levey.
Since last night, more than 2,600 consumers had signed up to CHOICE’s campaign for a free-range standard that means something at
This follows more than 3100 people joined with CHOICE last year to demand the ACCC reject the Egg Corporation's attempted 13-fold increase to free-range egg stocking densities. Thankfully, the ACCC listened.

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