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What do egg labels mean?

As is well known these days, most eggs don't come from happy hens. Over three million hens live short and cruel lives crammed into wire cages. Eighty-eight per cent of the one billion eggs consumed in New Zealand are produced by hens that spend their entire lives on an individual floor space smaller than an A4 sheet of paper.

So, with misleading packaging, standards and claims adding to shopper confusion, how can you avoid supporting cruelty?

To forestall government intervention, in 2006 egg producers agreed to voluntary labelling of eggs, and while this partly happened it is not industry-wide or mandatory.

Words like ‘free to roam', ‘cage-free' and drawings of countryside and sunshine on egg cartons leads the average New Zealander to think of happy hens dust-bathing and foraging in fresh air and green pastures-exactly what the egg producers want us to imagine-rather than the reality of large sheds confining tens of thousands of hens.

Shockingly, many ‘free-range' hens may never actually get to experience being outside.

The proposed new colony battery cages, or ‘furnished colony systems' as the industry refers to them, will only add to the confusion. These positive terms are used to divert attention away from what, for most people, would be the unpalatable reality of egg production.

Here SAFE unravels the mystery of egg labelling, from caged to organic:
 

egg title

 YESMAYBENO
  

Cage

Colony

Barn

Free range

Organic

Confined in cage

     
 

Unable to display normal behaviour

      
Unable to adequately exercise
   
 1  
Deprived access to outdoors
    2 
Beak trimmed
  3 3
  44
Male chicks killed at birth
      

Slaughtered from 18 months

      

 

1) Barn hens are kept at a stocking density of seven hens per square metre. This high density limits the hens ability to exercise freely.

2) There is no industry certification for ‘free range' in New Zealand. There are a number of variables between brands, including the required size of the outdoor range area, time flocks spend outdoors, and maximum number of hens per flock.

3) Most caged hens are beak trimmed, those that are not are kept under very low light levels to reduce feather pecking and cannibalism.

4) Hens may be beak trimmed depending on the certification standards applied.

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Cage eggs?

BOYCOTT CAGE EGGS!