Some eggs labelled as free-range are not all they are cracked up to be, but that could soon be changing.
The Federal Government has been working with state governments to introduce a nationwide standard on what classifies as free-range, and according to those in the know it will be rolled out soon.
Egg Farmers Australia chief executive John Dunn said he expected the roll-out of the new standard to occur in the next few months, based on rumblings in the industry.
He said a mandatory code would be beneficial for the industry, and for consumers that wanted to know exactly what they were getting.
‘‘Until this standard is implemented its been a voluntary code,’’ Mr Dunn said.
‘‘This will tighten up what you need to provide to call yourself a free-range farmer.’’
He said there had been times farmers had sold their eggs as free-range, despite keeping chooks in cramped indoor conditions without access to outside.
This had also been bad for consumers, with shoppers having little certainty about what exactly they were getting, he said.
‘‘This will provide certainty that when they buy free-range, they are actually getting free-range.’’
Mr Dunn expected the new standard to be ‘‘no greater than one bird per square metre or 10000 birds per hectare’’.
Although his organisation represented all egg farmers, including producers of caged eggs, he said it was clear more and more people wanted free-range.
‘‘It is a growing market,’’ he said.
Dookie free-range egg producer Jo Nelson from Good Lookin Googees believed the changes would give farmers like herself a fairer go than they get currently.
She currently pays fees to have her farm audited by Free Range Egg and Poultry Australia, but such audits are not a requirement for anyone who claims their eggs are free-range.
‘‘The public are over people saying they are free range when they are not,’’ Mrs Nelson said.