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Australian egg body drops QA programme

By RJ Whitehead , 24-Dec-2012

The Australian Egg Corporation (AECL) has advised Australia’s trademark administrators that it will withdraw its current application for a certification trade mark covering an enhanced quality assurance programme for the Australian egg industry. 

Last month, FoodNavigator-Asia reported how AECL’s quality initiative had been developed over a number of years and had involved extensive consultation with scientists, egg producers, regulators and the broader community. 

According to the corporation, its programme was aimed at “ensuring minimum egg production standards are attained on-farm in hen health, food safety, farm quarantine and biosecurity, environmental stewardship, egg labelling and hen welfare for cage, barn-laid and free range egg production.”

Community concerns

However, in response to concerns from some members of the community regarding three of the 171 minimum standards in the proposed programme, some of its structural elements and other observations, AECL has decided to withdraw the application. 

At this point in time, AECL intends to submit a new CTM application after taking stock, thoroughly reviewing the issues raised and making any necessary amendments to the minimum standards,” it said in a statement. 

It should be noted that after such rigorous consultation and review by all interested parties, there was no opposition to the standards for cage or barn-laid egg production in the new QA programme.”

Opposition to NZ ban

Earlier this month, AECL responded to New Zealand’s decision to outlaw battery hen cages, suggesting that Australia would be a forerunner of the policy if there was any truth behind the reasons for the ban.

If there was good evidence that hen welfare was significantly improved in colony cage systems, Australia would already have made these changes,” the corporation’s statement said.

Looking at animal welfare in its entirety and given current scientific research, the jury is still out as to whether such colony cages and furnishings in the cage improve welfare for laying hens.”

AECL also suggested that the net effect for consumers in New Zealand will be that the average price of eggs will increase.

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