Are you really free range?


If you’re a devout free-range user are you sure your worthy mantra in being carried through in everything you consume?

One of the most commonly over looked areas is convenience foods. It might be worth checking the labels of the goods you’re eating, particularly if you do use the occasional ready meals or packaged cakes, cookies and biscuits. Even the humble sandwich, particularly the supermarkets brands and chains such as Costa and Starbucks are notoriously stuffed with the cheaper cuts of meats.

Biscuits and cakes are the worst offenders and are generally made from eggs that are caged, worse still they’re made with eggs from battery hens from outside the EU, so we’re not just talking caged eggs but also lots of air miles and unknowns about the conditions of the hens and their feed. Mayonnaise is another one to watch out for, both for the use of eggs and the type of oil used to manufacture it. If the ingredients specifically state ‘free range eggs’ then that’s great, but if they don’t then you can pretty much guarantee that they’re using caged eggs outside the UK.

Also note the distinction between battery cages and enriched cages. Battery cages are illegal in the EU but ‘enriched cages’ are not. Battery cages are where the eggs are totally restricted from all natural hen behaviour. ‘Enriched cages’ are larger cages that allow hens the freedom to move, scratch themselves, nest and roost. The latter may sound OK in principle but often there’s not a great deal of difference between the two – particularly if producers then overload the number of hens in any one cage! In my humble opinion totally ‘free range’ is the best!

As the supermarkets battle it out for cheaper products (supposedly on the say so of the consumer – I think there’s a lot lost in translation) the end losers are the consumers, since there’s only so much they can shave off the bottom line. Shop around, local producers and local farms sell eggs that are regulated and are reasonably priced, and they’ll also be very fresh.


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