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SPCA calls on shoppers to buy 'cage-free' eggs

by 5m Editor
31 March 2007, at 2:32pm

NEW ZEALAND - The SPCA says New Zealand supermarket chains should follow the latest big British food retailer and set deadlines for ending sales of eggs from battery hens.

Sainsbury's has pledged to stop selling battery-farmed eggs by 2012, and said that in future its eggs will either be "free range" from hens which roam outside or "barn eggs" from hens in sheds with natural light.

Now the SPCA wants New Zealand consumers to vote with their bankcards and stop buying eggs which are not free range or barn-raised.

"If huge companies such as these can make this kind of change, how much easier should it be for our own much smaller supermarket chains?" said the SPCA's national chief executive, Robyn Kippenberger.

In one Wellington supermarket, a dozen size 6 free range eggs were priced at $6.73, while "ordinary" eggs of the same size and brand cost $3.47.

Ms Kippenberger said the Sainsbury's move reflected a clear trend in the UK retail food market, where the value of free range eggs overtook that of the battery-produced variety in 2005.

Another UK retail chain, Marks & Spencer dropped "cage eggs" from its range as far back as 1997, Waitrose stopped selling them in 2001 and now uses free range eggs in all its own branded foods.

She claimed the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders were opposed to battery egg production.

The SPCA collected 368,000 signatures in support of a referendum on the issue in 1994, but that figure dropped to about 220,000 after 148,000 were declared invalid, many because they were duplicated or the signatories were under 18 years of age, leaving the petition about 20,000 signatures short of the number needed to force a referendum.

Last year, a petition bearing more than 50,000 signatures was handed to the Government calling for mandatory labelling of egg cartons that contain eggs from battery hens.

Source: Scoop.co.nz