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Egg market plagued by deceptive labels

by 5m Editor
8 March 2007, at 12:19pm

ISRAEL - The free-range egg market in Israel is growing: An increasing number of consumers are willing to pay twice the cost for eggs laid by hens raised in humane conditions, and seven million eggs are marketed as "free-range" every year - 0.4 percent of all eggs sold.

But the definition of free range eggs is not determined by law or official regulation: The only organization that conducts inspections, Hai-Meshek, is not officially recognized by government authorities, and conducts voluntary checks. There are two big free range egg marketers in Israel: Teva Gav and Min HaTeva Be'erotaim. While Teva Gav is subject to Hai-Meshek's voluntary inspection, Min HaTeva refuses to open its chicken coops even to their voluntary supervision. A senior source in the company remarked: "We don't let Hai-Meshek oversee us, because they demand a great deal of money to do so. Anyone is invited to come and see the chickens themselves."

Hai-Meshek explains that "marketers have an economic incentive to sell regular eggs as free-range, because they are free from price regulation, and can be sold at a far higher price. The Agriculture Ministry is doing nothing to correct the situation. A ministry spokesman responded that "the ministry is responsible only for the public health aspect in supervision of eggs," and pointed to the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry. A spokesman at the latter ministry immediately pointed back to the Agriculture Ministry.

Source: HAARETZ.com

5m Editor