Ensuring your eggs come from ethically sourced farms which let their hens run uncrowded is something consumers will pay for. But a new national information standard for free-range egg production that was introduced by the state and federal consumer affairs ministers last week, has muddied the waters on what is actually ethical these days.
The new information standard, allows farmers to label their eggs as ‘free range’ as long as their hens number no more than 10,000 per hectare.
The problem is that the federal government agency for scientific research, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has said that the label should only be given to farmers who run no more than 1500 hens per hectare.
The new information standard was labelled as farcical by Tom Godfrey, a spokesman for Australian not for profit consumer organisation CHOICE when we asked about the changes.
Choice are intending to speak out about the changes as well as educate consumers about the new standard. They’ve released a list of egg producers and are advising which are simply adhering to the new government approved standard, and which are adhering to the more ethical CSIRO standard.
Choice has also released a new Augmented Reality app, called CluckAR for both Android and iOS which scans egg cartons and overlays an augmented reality (AR) animation showing the capacity each producer is operating under.
Mr Godfrey said
The app has been designed to give the power back to consumers and stop them being duped by the dodgy free-range egg marketing claims on egg cartons.
The app is being kept up to date, adding data in real time as more information is found. The app has been updated with over 600 contributions of new egg cartons since the app launched yesterday. Choice is also willing to work with farmers and update their listing in the app, if they can prove they meet the moral standards outlined by the CSIRO.
So how does it look? It looks great. The app works quite well and decently fast. The results are quite easy to see on the screen of your phone, just load the app and point the camera at the eggs, scan the carton and wait for the results:
The AR effect is 3D, if you move your phones camera, the Augmented Reality view shows the animated chooks at different angles:
And if the eggs are from a barn laid source, then you get another animation (which is also 3D) for that:
The CluckAR database is being updated based on submissions, if the carton doesn’t scan you can choose to upload a picture of the carton to be included:
Of course you may want to support ethically sourced eggs but maybe you don’t want to use the app. For your convenience the egg farms not conforming to the CSIRO moral standard include 19 producers which are listed with the hen densities on the CSIRO website and we’ve listed them here:
- Aldi Lodge Farm
- Coles Free Range Eggs
- Country Fresh
- Eco Eggs
- Essential Foods
- Farm Pride
- Field Fresh
- Manning Valley
- Meggles Farm
- Misty Mountain
- Pace Farm
- Pace Omega 3
- South Gippsland
- Western Australia Golden Eggs
- Woolworths Select
Choice are also prompting people to sign a letter to send to your states Consumer Affairs minister. You too can send a message from their e-activist site they’ve setup.
The app is available for free in Google Play for devices running Android 4.0 and above – it’s also available for iOS devices in the app store. Head on over and grab the app before you head to buy more eggs.