Did you know that while many people opt to buy free range whole eggs, processed foods and restaurants often use eggs from caged birds. British Hen Welfare Trust founder Jane Howorth discusses the charity’s new #hiddeneggs campaign
FOOD IS one the delights of the festive season. It brings friends and family together and is one of the very best things about Christmas. But what if your Christmas cake isn’t all it is cracked up to be?
Anyone with a food intolerance or allergy will already be into the practice of checking the ingredients lists on all their favourite products, but what about those of us with a passion for hen welfare? We all know that opting for the free range half a dozen helps to ensure better welfare conditions for the hens who laid the eggs, but it is not at the forefront of most people’s minds to check that the eggs in their processed foods match the same standards.
According to British Lion Eggs, 60% of us opted for free range whole eggs in 2017. However, whole eggs only account for 55% of the UK egg market, meaning that the other 45% are used in restaurants or go into processed foods, such as the cakes, quiches and sauces we buy in the supermarket. These eggs are both caged and free range and, while the latter is identified in ingredients lists, brands are less likely to shout about the fact that the eggs in their products were laid by hens in cages.
We all rejoiced when supermarkets announced their pledges to go cage-free by 2025, and rightly so, as it means hundreds of thousands of hens will be permanently taken out of their cages. But cage-free does not mean free range.
Barn systems, where laying hens are kept within large enclosed barns with no access outdoors, account for just 1.5% of the egg market (Defra, for year to September 2017). However, Tesco, which sells 1.4 billion eggs in the UK every year, has stated specifically that it will look to source eggs from barn, free range and organic systems from 2025, so it is important that people know just where their shell eggs — and eggs in processed foods — are coming from.
That is why the British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT) is calling for change. We know that some brands still used caged eggs in their products, which we think isn’t consistent with consumer demand for free range eggs. So, our #hiddeneggs campaign is calling on McVitie’s and Mr Kipling to make a commitment to use only free range eggs because we all likes a Jaffa Cake or Angel Slice made with eggs laid by free range hens.
Helping us in our quest is new BHWT ambassador Lucy Gavaghan, who ran a successful petition calling on Tesco to stop selling caged eggs. We believe that together we can continue working towards a high-welfare free range future for all laying hens.
To launch our campaign, the charity and Lucy have worked together with BHWT patrons Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty to highlight the importance of #hiddeneggs. You can see it all in an upcoming episode of Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast which airs in November.
You can get involved in the campaign by signing our petitions. Visit www. bhwt.org.uk/hiddeneggs.
CRACKING GOOD CHRISTMAS CAKES
Christmas is a time for eating, but it is also a time for giving, so what better way to combine the two than by holding a festive bake sale to raise money for the BHWT? You can whip up some free range tasty treats (think Christmas cake, yule logs and eggnog) and take them into work or share with friends and family in exchange for a donation. For more information and a free Bake for Hens’ Sake fundraising pack, visit www.bhwt.org.uk.
The BHWT’s #hiddeneggs campaign is calling on McVitie’s and Mr Kipling to make a commitment to use only free range eggs in their products