22 March 2017

SPCA Blue Tick® accredited free range eggs

 

In the wake of the recent egg controversy, we would like to reassure consumers that SPCA Blue Tick approved free range eggs do live up to its high animal welfare claims.

 

Various media have recently highlighted the SPCA Blue Tick as one of the most trusted accreditations, acknowledging its robust systems that ensure high animal welfare approved farming methods.

 

The SPCA Blue Tick® is the only 100% independent animal welfare accreditation in New Zealand, independent from the food and farming industries and run by SPCA New Zealand.

With this in mind, the SPCA Blue Tick® is encouraging consumers to ask questions, and gain a better understanding of where their eggs come from, and whether it lives up to the claims on the packaging.

 

We understand there may be doubt with the industry in turmoil, but here is what you need to know about the SPCA Blue Tick® accreditation:

  • SPCA Blue Tick® has four approved egg producers in the accreditation. Under these producers there are 14 different egg brands available to consumers. More information here
  • The approved egg producers acting as the distributors as a result pay royalties to the SPCA Blue Tick®, an approach that should be welcomed by consumers as lowering costs in the supply chain. For the other product categories (chicken, pork and turkey), the distributors/consumer brands who buy their farmed produce from SPCA Blue Tick® approved farmers pay the royalties to the SPCA Blue Tick®.
  • The SPCA Blue Tick® accreditation, running on a cost plus pricing, pays for the audits of the farms to be conducted independantly, neither the farmer nor the consumer brands have to pay anything for the audits. Any surplus generated by the SPCA Blue Tick® is re-invested into the wider work of the SPCA and the SPCA Blue Tick. Remaining funds are allocated to activities such as the growth of the SPCA Blue Tick® accreditation by introducing new species, the SPCA schools education programme and other initiatives to help Kiwis better understand and support high animal welfare.
  • Our farms are independently audited annually to our stringent high animal welfare standards (standards compiled by several animal welfare experts based on science), as well as some unannounced audits (at random) throughout the year to ensure farmers are farming the way they are supposed to all year round.
  • CARs (Corrective Action Requirements) notices are issued to a SPCA Blue Tick® producer should the producer fail to meet our SPCA Blue Tick® standards at the audit level, with AsureQuality tasked to close those CARs with the producer within the following timeframes:

CAR Process:

o   Minor CAR, SPCA notified within 2 business days – 6 weeks to close

o   Major CAR, SPCA notified within 1 business day – 14 days to close

o   Critical CAR, SPCA notified within 24 hours – Immediate closure

  • We also audit the packing area in line with segregation / traceability processes that are in place. Whilst we audit and random audit the packing area of our producers / distributors backed up by segregation process documentation, we have started reconciling internal data of monthly numbers of SPCA Blue Tick® eggs produced versus the number of SPCA Blue Tick® eggs cartons sold which at present shows there is more supply than demand.

Whilst we can’t be on a farm 24/7, this is the standard auditing process we apply all year round to monitor and ensure the farms adhere to our stringent high animal welfare standards. The auditing and CAR system enables us to avoid any discrepency with our approved eggs reassuring consumers that our farms are monitored and held accountable.
 

  • This means the SPCA Blue Tick® can, at any point of time, during scheduled or unannounced audits find potential CARS (Corrective Action Requirements) on approved farms.
  • The CARS process is then put to action and should it be a critical CAR, SPCA Blue Tick® is notified within 24 hours resulting in an immediate closure.  
  • Should any producer fail to close any CARs, they will not be allowed to be associated with the SPCA Blue Tick® or produce products for the accreditation scheme.
  • More information here.

 

As mentioned before, we invite Kiwis to do their homework and ask questions about:
 

  • Free range
    o  How has the product been certified as free range?
    o  Is the 'Free Range Certification' granted after an independent audit?

  • Independently audited
    Is there a certification logo on the packaging?
    What does the certification logo actually mean and who actually issued it? Is it something that has been designed by the brand or the  producer/farmer himself or does it actually mean something?
    Do the farms get audited or do the producers ‘audit themselves’?
    If independently audited (which would be expected), are their independent auditors instructed by an independent accreditation to go onto the farms and audit against the standards of that independent accreditation? Or do the businesses instruct their independent auditors to audit to their own standards, which could be a conflict of interest?
    How often do the farms get audited? Any un-announced / random audits?
    Is the certification approval granted after an independent audit that's been successfully conducted by a third party auditor extensively trained to standards?
    Is a 'Certificate of Approval' issued once the farm or the site has successfully passed the audit and if so is it available for consumers (and businesses) to view it on request?

 

  • To which standards
    To which standards has the product been farmed?
    Who writes the standards? Have the standards been written by animal welfare experts or written by the farmer itself or by non-animal welfare experts?
    Does the product meet the Minimum Code of Welfare (which is not legally binding), or do the standards go beyond that, such as stringent high animal welfare standards that are enforceable?
    What's the stocking density on the farms? What kind of conditions are they in? How many birds are there per square metre? What access do they have to the outdoors? Is there any litter inside the sheds so that they can dust bath? Is there any ventilation system inside to prevent the dust? Check out our standards for more information

 

The answers to the above questions will help consumers understand what type of eggs they are buying. Consumers can feel good about SPCA Blue Tick® approved eggs because our accreditation is robust with high animal welfare at its core.

 

The SPCA Blue Tick® works with farmers who have made a commitment to improve overall animal welfare. Thanks to growing demand for free range eggs, producers have started their high animal welfare journey by changing their method of producing eggs from caged, to free range, to high welfare approved systems in a commercially sustainable way.

 

SPCA Blue Tick® applauds producers for gradually moving out of caged eggs and converting into high animal welfare approved barn and free range operations - rather than jumping straight into 'colony' which is just a bigger cage as far as the SPCA is concerned. The cost of converting, which can be up to $1 million per shed, is a huge undertaking and investment for any farmer.

 

We encourage consumers to come on the same high animal welfare journey as our farmers.  The latest available data from Countdown shows that around 60% of the sales of eggs are still caged eggs. There is still a long way to go and shoppers can positively impact on farming practices by 'voting with their wallets' by choosing high animal welfare, independently certified free range or barn eggs. Our journey improves farm animal welfare with solutions that make the change affordable for farmers in the long term, and also affordable for most consumers.

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Charity Number CC22705