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Free-range app to crack misleading egg claims

CHOICE launches free CluckAR app to help consumers boycott bad eggs

7 April 2016

Consumer group CHOICE has launched a free augmented reality app to help shoppers avoid dodgy free-range eggs in the supermarket.

The app comes in the wake of Consumer Affairs Ministers' disappointing decision last week to sign off on a national standard for free-range eggs that has no requirement for hens to ever actually go outside and allows free-range eggs to be produced by hens stocked at up to 10,000 birds per hectare – more than six times the current voluntary limit of 1,500.

"With Augmented Reality on your phone or tablet we now have the power to make labels tell the truth, even when government won't require it," says CHOICE Head of Media Tom Godfrey.

"With the new 'free-range' rules clearly reflecting the commercial interests of the big industrialised egg producers over consumers, we had to intervene in this market to make up for the failing of Consumer Affairs Ministers.

"The app gives power back to consumers, helping them navigate the free-range egg market. By scanning a free-range egg carton, consumers can quickly see which eggs live up to the 'free-range' claim. 

"Following Ministers' farcical decision last Friday, we have called for consumers to show their support for honest food labelling and boycott bad eggs.

"The new CluckAR app will help those Australians who really do give a cluck about genuine free-range eggs in the supermarket by pointing them in the right direction," Mr Godfrey says.

CHOICE has consistently called for a free-range egg standard that meets consumers' expectations. At a minimum, a standard for free-range eggs should require that eggs labelled 'free-range' are produced in farms where chickens actually go outside and have a maximum outdoor stocking density of 1,500 hens per hectare.

The app is the first initiative from CHOICE's New Things lab, established early this year with a mission to explore and deliver on innovations to empower consumers.

"CHOICE has always been about empowering consumers and now we're taking up new tools to fulfill that mission" said Viveka Weiley, CHOICE's Head of New Things.

"CHOICE has done the research so we know which eggs are fair dinkum. Just download the free app for iPhone or Android, point your device at the label and let the 3D chooks tell the story," says Mr Weiley.

CHOICE's research has shown that 213 million eggs were sold as free-range in 2014 that didn't meet consumers' expectations.[1]

Consumer Affairs Ministers' decision means that consumers could be paying a premium of between $21 million and $43 million per year for eggs labelled 'free-range' that don't live up to the claim.[2]

Consumers can download the CluckAR app from here: choice.com.au/cluckar
 
They can also tell Ministers who voted for a bad standard that they are boycotting bad eggs here: www.choice.com.au/freerange   
 
If consumers don't have the app, they can continue to identify bad eggs using CHOICE's buying guide.  

cluckar app
 
CHOICE's proposed free-range standard
CHOICE has called for a free-range egg standard to require that:

  • The majority of chickens actually go outside regularly
  • Birds have room to move comfortably when outdoors
  • Birds have room to move comfortably inside the barn
  • Farmers undertake animal welfare practices.
  • Any products that don't meet these minimum requirements should be labelled in a way that accurately reflects how they were produced, for example 'access to range'.
[1] Free-Range Eggs: Making the Claim Meaningful, 2015: https://www.choice.com.au//~/media/619b60e5a1f04b2191d09fd9dab4c72e.ashx
[2] Free Range Egg Labelling Consultation Paper, 2016

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