Note: The consultation was originally published on 5 October 2015
On 12 June 2015, Consumer Affairs Ministers from the Commonwealth, States and Territories requested the preparation of a draft national standard on free range egg labelling. The Commonwealth undertook a consultation process on behalf of the government agencies responsible for consumer affairs or fair trading in the Commonwealth, States and Territories. The objective has been to enhance consumer confidence and certainty regarding egg labelling, including to better ensure that consumers are not misled by egg labels. The consultation paper outlined three alternative policy options for providing more detailed guidance to consumers and producers on the requirements for labelling 'free range' eggs. The consultation process concluded in February 2016, and a final Decision Regulation Impact Statement was agreed by the Office of Best Practice Regulation. On 31 March 2016, Consumer Affairs Ministers agreed to the introduction of an information standard requiring eggs labelled as 'free range' to have been laid by hens with meaningful and regular access to the outdoors and with an outdoor stocking density of 10,000 hens per hectare or fewer. The information standard will also require producers to prominently disclose the outdoor stocking density of hens laying free range eggs, allowing consumers to easily compare the practices of different egg producers. Amendments to the Australian Consumer Law will also provide complying egg producers with a safe harbour from claims of misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to free range claims. The Decision Regulation Impact Statement is available through the Office of Best Practice Regulation website.