I’m lucky. I was raised to eat and buy only free-range eggs as I had a mum who drilled it into me regularly – and I always thought it was a good idea. It’s second nature to me to check the box before I buy some of our birdie friends yellow-yolked goodness. For those who haven’t though, it’s easy to forget, much in the same way I sometimes forget to take my green bags to the supermarket.
In order to try and make a difference, the RSPCA have launched the Choose Wiseley campaign. In Australian there are approximately 11.6 million hens that live in cages, where they also lay their eggs. Their short lives are full of suffering and difficulty. As always, the choices we make can have an impact on the welfare of the animals.
Step 1 Avoid buying cage eggs all together. If it doesn’t specify the production system then it’s safe to assume the eggs were produced by hens in cages.
Step 2 Look at the label. What you’re looking for are barn-laid, free range, organic or RSPCA accredited eggs. Certification means that the standards to which eggs were produced are publicly available and you can then decide whether you find the hen’s living conditions acceptable or not. RSPCA-accredited eggs are a great choice because the RSPCA regularly inspects farms to ensure our high standards are maintained. Simply look out for the RSPCA logo on the egg carton.
Step 3 Be discerning. If in doubt, ask your store manager where the eggs have come from and how the hens have been housed.
The RSPCA is also campaigning to introduce consistent labelling of foods produced to higher animal welfare standards. In fact, you can help by writing to your local MP expressing your concern about the lack of legal or nationally consistent minimum standards to define the use of such terms as “free range”.
As part of the initiative, cafes and restaurants can commit to the cause with a ‘membership’ level based on how much of their product uses free-range eggs.
Gold means all egg-containing food items sold on the premises, including sauces and cakes, are made with cage-free eggs.
Silver means cage-free eggs are used in all egg-containing food items made on the premises. However, cage eggs may have been used in products brought in, such as cakes and sauces.
Bronze means all whole eggs used on the premises are cage-free. This could include fried eggs, omelettes, salads, etc. These products should be clearly labelled.
With a business directory that’s growing and a cause worth supporting, share the information around and next time you’re thinking about Sunday breakfast, googies and soldiers or baking up some cakes, take a moment to ensure you thought of Madame Chicken. From a selfish point of view, free-range eggs taste way better. Happy chickens mean better produce.
PS. There are all kinds of images available showing the damage living in cages does to the hens, I just didn’t want to distress anyone by adding one to this blog. If you’re interested though, just google “battery hens” but be prepared as some pics are disturbing.