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RNZSPCA Launches New Egg Accreditation Scheme

The RNZSPCA has today launched an accreditation scheme to encourage cage egg producers to change to barn production to reduce and ultimately phase out this cruel but commonly used method, often called the battery system.

To meet RNZSPCA requirements barn egg producers must ensure hens have a good quality of life and are able to carry out normal, healthy daily functions such as scratching, dust bathing, flapping their wings and are provided with nests to lay their eggs. Once producers meet these requirements their eggs may carry the RNZSPCA accreditation logo and a guarantee the hens that laid the eggs are well treated.

The first egg producers to gain accreditation are Henergy Barn Eggs in Masterton and Levin's Benniks Barn Laid Eggs. Woolworths, Big Fresh and Price Chopper supermarkets are encouraging egg producers to become accredited and will only stock barn eggs that have received accreditation. They will be marketed under their First Choice Barn Eggs brand. Consumers may also be able to purchase accredited eggs from other sources.

RNZSPCA chief executive Peter Blomkamp says the accreditation scheme is a positive step forward for the New Zealand egg industry and consumers, who can now be sure they are choosing eggs produced in a humane environment.

"The caged method of housing layer hens is appalling and must be phased out. Our accreditation scheme aims to increase consumer awareness and give the public the opportunity to show a demand for more welfare friendly produce. They can do this by buying RNZSPCA accredited barn eggs," says Mr Blomkamp.

"We hope the New Zealand public and other supermarket chains get behind the scheme and show caged egg producers it is viable to change to this method of production."

About two and a half million hens are housed in cages and more than 90 percent of eggs produced for commercial sale in New Zealand are from caged hens. There are usually three to five birds per cage, each bird having a floor space slightly smaller than the size of a telephone book. They stay in this space all their laying lives and many suffer severe health problems as a result.

This is the first of several RNZSPCA accreditation schemes to be developed. It is hoped that within the next six months a free range egg accreditation scheme will be launched which will give assurance of high quality husbandry techniques in free range egg production.

ENDS....

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