ANIMAL CHARITY VIVA! is celebrating Trading Standards’ announcement that Noble Foods (who sell eggs in Tesco and other UK supermarkets) will amend “misleading” labelling on their ‘Big and Fresh’ eggs from caged hens. However, the charity blasted the length of time it took Noble Foods to agree to change its packaging (8 months). Viva! also questioned why it took Trading Standards so long to bring about this change and questioned its ability to police large producers and ensure they do not mislead the public.
Viva! campaigns manager Justin Kerswell says: “Viva! is a charity that promotes veganism as the best way to help end animal suffering. We think that people should be able to make an informed choice about what they buy. We believe that Noble Foods’ egg labelling did not allow customers to make that informed choice. We are also questioning why supermarkets that sold this brand did not vet these claimed standards.
Bigger cages are still cages
“We welcome this decision. However, it remains to be seen what it is replaced with. Whilst there have been some welfare improvements since the banning of battery cages, in reality enriched cages are just a bigger cage. Our undercover investigation into Noble Foods’ so-called enriched cage facility in Scotland filmed many birds with deformed beaks and one bird that had to be removed because she was being bullied by the other hens because of this unnatural environment. In no way should these cages be held up as an example of the highest in animal welfare, as the company’s packaging stated.
These eggs have continued to be labelled in this way since the initial complaints were made. Over the last 8 months, Tesco and other supermarkets will have potentially sold millions of eggs to customers who very possibly thought they were buying a higher welfare product. This is deeply concerning and calls into question why investigations take such a long time? It would be inconceivable for a small business to be allowed to potentially mislead customers for the best part of a year and then escape any sanction, yet it seems like one rule for them and quite another for large corporate companies.”