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RNZSPCA Announces Free Range Guarantee

Royal New Zealand Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals


The campaign against "battery" hen farming takes a major step forward this week.

From tomorrow (Tuesday), caring consumers will be able to look for a Royal New Zealand SPCA logo, when seeking assurance that eggs labelled as "free range" are produced in consistently humane environments and not in the horrific conditions endured by battery hens.

The RNZSPCA's Free Range Egg Accreditation scheme is to be launched in the course of its inaugural "Cage Free Egg Day". To mark the occasion, the SPCA will be delivering a carton of six free range eggs to every Member of Parliament.

A group of MPs drawn from all the parties in Parliament is scheduled to congregate on its steps at 1.15 pm on Tuesday, to receive egg consignments on behalf of their colleagues.

The presentation ceremony will be followed by a series of egg and spoon races, on the grassed area in front of Parliament, with steady-handed parliamentarians vying for line honours with other prominent personalities.

"To be part of our free range accreditation scheme, an egg producer must be willing to accept thorough and regular auditing," says RNZSPCA Chief Executive Peter Blomkamp, adding that the free range scheme will be building on the success of the organisation's existing accreditation scheme for "barn eggs".

"We're confident that consumers will welcome the guarantee provided by our logo. Increasing numbers of New Zealanders are outraged by the obscenity of crowding millions of hens together in wire cages, with no room to exercise, preen or flap their wings.

"Hundreds of thousands of birds suffer from painfully damaged feet and claws as a result of this horrendous production system, whilst the de-beaking inflicted on battery hens can cause life-long pain," he says. Mr Blomkamp defines barn eggs as laid by hens who are allowed to move around and have room to dust-bathe, perch, stretch and nest. Free range hens, he says, have all these advantages and, in addition, are allowed to roam outdoors. The generic term "cage free" is used by the SPCA to describe both free range and barn eggs.

"A key feature of our scheme is that it's not open to producers who run a mixture of cage free and battery hens. We want to make sure that our logo isn't exploited by battery producers who just run a small number of cage free birds as a marketing ploy," says Mr Blomkamp.

"By choosing cage free eggs, compassionate New Zealanders are joining millions of others across the globe, who are opting for the welfare of hens and against needless suffering," he says, pointing out that successful accreditation schemes now exist in Britain, continental Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States.

For further information or comment, please contact:

Peter Blomkamp Chief Executive Officer RNZSPCA 09 827 6094 025 277 1961

or

Peter Mason President RNZSPCA 04 389 4609 025 461 680


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