Can you label your eggs as Pastured?
Pastured is a term that is rapidly gaining popularity with consumers because it more accurately defines the conditions under which they expect their eggs to be produced. It also enables the producer to set themselves apart from what has now become a supermarket label, ‘free range’.
Caged, barn, cage free, free range or pastured eggs?
When it comes to eggs, many producers have been led to believe that there is a legal requirement to label their eggs as either caged, barn or free range in line with the model code and this has caused a great deal of despair for those farmers that produce their eggs under such different conditions to the corporate giants that have taken over the term free range. Levelling the playing field will only serve to put small farms out of business and lead consumers down the same old path of deception.
PROOF (Pastured Raised On Open Fields) has been a leader in steering a new direction for both egg and pork producers and is working to ensure that our farmers hold on to their rightful place in the market and in doing so act, on sound advice.
Advice on labelling as Pastured
PROOF has sought legal advice on the requirements for labelling on egg cartons and our producers are free to label their eggs as ‘pastured’ because there is no legal requirement to call them cage, barn or free range only*.
The term pastured eggs would convey the impression that laying hens have reasonable access to and graze on pasture outside. The expression also conveys the impression that the diet of the laying hen substantially or meaningfully comprises of grass pasture (as opposed to exclusively relying on supplied feed stock), particularly if the term free range is used in conjunction with the term pastured. (If the term free range is included on your label you must comply with the new information standard that is now in force. (It will not be necessary for eggs simply labelled as pastured)
On this basis, egg producers who use the term pastured eggs, must allow their laying hens access to grassy pasture to permit the hens to feed on grass in order to avoid contravention of the consumer protection laws.
Our advice also recommends that to further mitigate the risk of contravening consumer law provisions, that more information about the meaning of ‘pastured eggs’ be provided on the carton by using the PROOF definition for pastured production or using the PROOF logo and website link available to PROOF licensees.
It is very important farmers are able to offer proof that their production system is genuinely pasture based so as not to mislead consumers, but to also ensure that our farmers have secure and viable future. Learn more about PROOF Licensing on the website www.proof.net.au
Australian Egg Corporation and Egg Corp Assured
While the Australian Egg Corporation has provided guidelines for producers that stipulated that the terms caged, barn or free range be used on egg cartons, this is a voluntary guideline. However, the Egg Corp Assured program (ECA) does dictate that producers comply with the Egg Corporation guideline. So, the only restrictions on how production systems are described on egg cartons are if the producers are Egg Corp Assured or in the ACT.
*except in the ACT