Application for Egg Certification Trade Mark Withdrawn24 December 2012
AUSTRALIA - The Australian Egg Corporation Limited (AECL) has advised IP Australia that it will withdraw its current application for a Certification Trade Mark (CTM) covering an enhanced Quality Assurance (QA) programme for the Australian egg industry.
The QA programme was developed over three years and included an exhaustive process involving extensive consultation with scientists, egg producers, regulators and the broader community.
The programme is 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.
However, in response to concerns from some members of the community regarding three of the 171 minimum standards in the proposed QA programme, some structural elements of the program and other observations, AECL said it has decided to withdraw the CTM Application.
AECL said it 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 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," a statement from AECL said.
"Peer reviewed, independent research has shown us that today’s market is highly varied with many Australians wanting cheaper free range eggs, while others are willing to pay more for their eggs.
"AECL is passionate about ensuring the Australian community has ready access to all types of eggs, at a range of prices that are true-to-label, safe to eat and have been produced by laying hens in a welfare- and environmentally-friendly fashion. We aim to keep achieving this by balancing community expectations with ‘good’ science (peer reviewed and replicated) and the commercial realities of providing just under 13 million nutritious eggs every day to a discerning market place.
"AECL will still continue to set the benchmark for the egg industry to ensure that its quality standards are met and the consumer receives a quality egg product."
However, Freeranger Eggs said the move represents total victory for free range egg farmers across Australia - as well as for consumers.
"This is a huge win for all free range egg producers. If the new standard had been implemented it would have seen a growth in massive highly intensive egg farms with 20,000 hens per hectare becoming industry practice. The current maximum density accepted by the most in the industry and endorsed in the preliminary decision of the ACCC, is 1500 hens per hectare," said Phil Westwood.