Austrailian Egg Corporation Limited's new, national Quality Assurance (QA) program, Egg Standards Australia (ESA), has 171 standards associated with hen welfare, food safety, farm quarantine & biosecurity, environmental management, egg labeling and hen health.
It has been developed over a three year period in line with ISO Guide 65 by a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).
AECL completed a consultative phase with the egg industry seeking feedback of the standards from the QA Industry Consultative Committee (ICC), the convening of face-to-face meetings with egg producers in all states and calling for individual written submissions.
This development process has resulted in a well-research Quality Assurance program with a solid basis and foundation for egg producers to be audited against. It represents an enhanced QA program from the EggCorp Assured QA program that has been in existence since 2004.
AECL is proud to have developed this program for egg producers and the community providing egg consumers with greater levels of confidence as it relates to the enforcement of all 171 standards.
During the consultation phase, some lobby groups have focused on one standard associated with the maximum outdoor stocking density allowed in free range farming systems in ESA of 2 hens per square metre. This focus has resulted in some media attention.
Given the independent development of all the standards by the TAC; the volume of consumer, economic, scientific and social research; and veterinary counsel that AECL has sought, we are confident that the standards reflect an effective balance of good science (peer reviewed and replicated), consumer expectations and commercial reality. ESA is a responsible QA program.
The adoption and implementation of ESA among egg producers will ensure the egg industry can provide a safe, great value staple protein product that is true-to-label and produced in a welfare-friendly manner for our growing population into the future.
AECL supports any egg farmer stocking up to 2 hens per square metre (including those stocking at 1500 hens per hectare). Those stocking at 1500 hens per hectare are encouraged to label this density as a point of difference in the market.