Humane Society International is outraged by the Queensland government's recent changes to its free range egg standards, calling on consumers to boycott the industry.
Choice announced yesterday that the Queensland government had increased stocking density for its free range eggs from 1,500 birds per hectare to 10,000 birds per hectare - a 667 percent increase.
HSI, an animal protection agency which earlier in the year delivered 40,000 postcards to the prime minister Julia Gillard in protest of the continued mislabelling of free range eggs, says Queensland is threatening true free range egg production.
"The Queensland government has bowed to the pressure of the corporate giants and sold out Queensland family farms, the egg buying consumer and condemned hens to a life of factory farming misery," HSI said in a statement.
HSI said when Queensland was working to its previous 1,500 hens per hectare standard it had an advantage over other states, but now they're point of difference has been lost, especially considering South Australia recently committed to developing a free range labelling system for producers and stocking densities of 1,500 hens or less per hectare.
The Queensland government is allowing the supermarket duopoly to act as regulators in the industry, HSI said, and is making a mockery of the Model Code of Practice, which is intended as a guide for people responsible for the husbandry of domestic poultry.
Lee McCosker from Humane Choice, the certification scheme launched by HSI, called on consumers to turn their backs on Queensland's egg industry.
"In a perverse way the Queensland government has made it just that much easier to make the right choice when you buy free range eggs. When purchasing eggs at the supermarket, just look at where they are packed and boycott any free range eggs produced in Queensland," she said.
HSI encourages consumers to buy egss from independent supermarkets, butchers, green grocers and farmers markets and to check they have authentic, reliable accreditation.