Certified Free Range
Saturday, June 12th 2010
To New Zealand Standards NZS8410-2003, Audited by D Brown (ISO 65/17020 AUDITOR)
We ask consumers to pay quite a premium to enjoy free range eggs, which is why we think it important to let them know that they are getting what they pay for.
Surprisingly, there is no such thing as an authorised, industry agreed free range standard in New Zealand. Hens can be kept in the most extraordinary conditions, and still produce eggs that are labelled as free range. When you put 15,000 hens in a single enormous barn, very few of them actually get to venture outside, and they certainly don’t find lush green paddocks that you often see on the packaging.
So when FRENZ eggs went looking for an established authority to help clarify the situation, and help consumers choose between pretend free range and the real deal, they found that they had to take the situation into their own hands and publish this, an interpretation of the standard. FRENZ instructed leading farm auditor and free range expert, David Brown, to undertake an audit of each of their flocks, checking them against the relevant standards set out in the organic farming publication NZS8410-2003. Embedded within this publication are criteria for free range that, with some small additional factors from other leading sources of best practice, make for a pretty compelling Free Range standard.
Of course the ideal situation is to have an agreed and published standard that gives everyone a level playing field – consumers and manufacturers alike. If there were to be tougher legislation or a change to food labelling standards to specifically relate to free range claims, we would embrace it with open arms. This initiative is part of our attempt to start that debate, and in addition we are actively trying to engage politicians and regulatory bodies to raise the issue, but in the absence of such standards the least we can do is try and make it as clear as possible.
For us it means:
1. No more than 350 birds per acre of pasture – this is a sustainable flock size since it is small enough to allow the pasture to replenish naturally
2. No beak trimming, no wing trimming, no toe trimming – with proper space to live in the birds don’t get anti-social, and therefore don’t fight, so you don’t need to trim their beaks and toes
3. No antibiotics in their feed – because they are living in healthy conditions with correct diet, they don’t need antibiotics to keep them alive and healthy
4. No pesticides used on the land
5. All birds free to roam on open pasture 24/7 all year round
6. Chicken sheds and flocks sized to allow all birds uninterrupted access all year round to outside space i.e. 1500 birds maximum
There are four free range standards available in the New Zealand public domain that we have drawn on in developing this standard. In addition to the NZ Organic spec, we referenced:
Assure Quality (embedded in Organic spec)
Biogro NZ (embedded in Organic spec)
SPCA the only spec published specifically as a free range standard and applicable nationally. We don’t acknowledge this specification however, since it allows for beak trimming and shed sizes of 4,000 birds – at this scale the majority of the birds do not get outside access as implied by Free Range.
Certified Companies include: Frenz free range eggs and Freckels Organic Free Range Eggs
Footnote from Ideal Health:
The following supplements are all useful for optimum nutrition:
Age Defence Resveratrol
Clean Lean Protein
Good Green Stuff
Hi Strength Liquid Fish Oil
Immune Booster for Kids
Family C Powder
Hi Strength Fish Oil
Olive Leaf Complex
Vitamin and Mineral Boost
Related health information can be found here:
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If you need help or advice, you are welcome to email our naturopathic team with your health question.
Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.
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