PUBLISHED ON: 29 April 2014
Avoiding cage eggs isn’t as easy as keeping your eyes peeled in the egg aisle of a supermarket. In fact, many people aren’t aware that most eggs produced in Australia are used in food products, or by caterers and restaurants.
The food processing sector is a massive user of cage eggs, and each year some 6 million sensitive and intelligent hens are confined cruelly in cages solely to lay eggs that will end up as ingredients in products on our supermarket shelves.
The list of products that may contain cage eggs is endless: mayonnaise, salad dressings, dips, pasta and pasta sauces, biscuits, frozen desserts ... many are used in bakery items, including cakes, buns and breads.
It takes a hen 30 hours to produce one cage egg — that’s 30 hours of misery where she cannot stretch her wings or satisfy her most natural urge to build a nest and lay her eggs in private.
The good news is there is a growing trend amongst food manufacturers to make kinder ingredient choices. Australian companies Doodles Creek, Zoosh Foods, Pudding Lane, Da Vinci Foods, Snowy Mountain Cookies, and Blessed and Lucky don't use caged eggs in their products. And there is also a greater selection of egg-free alternatives!
Notably, Woolworths has committed to phasing out the use of cage eggs in their home brand products by 2018. With at least 25% of the items on Australian supermarket shelves being house-branded, making those products cage-free is a critical step towards freeing hens from battery cage cruelty.
Internationally, companies such as Kraft, Sara Lee, Cadbury and Unilever have all made commitments to either reduce the number of cage eggs they use or replace them completely in their products. Unfortunately, these commitments haven’t yet extended to Australia.
All these positive changes start with consumer awareness. Making the decision to not buy battery cage eggs or products that contain cage eggs will help reduce demand for these cruel products. And be sure to always read the labels. If eggs are listed in the ingredients but ‘free-range’ or ‘cage-free’ isn’t specified, it will almost invariably contain eggs produced by caged hens. Use this chart to help decipher what these different terms mean for hens:
What you can do
If you discover your favourite food products contain cage eggs then write to the food manufacturer. Positive change for hens internationally has been driven by informed and caring consumers. These companies will listen if Australians urge them to put the put the chicken before the egg ‘downunder’ too.