COA urges consumers to purchase free-range eggs


TAIPEI–A local animal welfare group said Thursday that the European Union has banned the use of battery hen cages among egg producers, urging consumers in Taiwan to buy eggs produced by free-range hens.

The Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST) said 99 percent of hens in Taiwan are raised through the factory farming system, in which two to four hens are confined in a single chicken coop together with their excrement.

Chickens that are raised in this cruel, cramped environment have a lower resistance to diseases. Farmers therefore feed antibiotics to hens to boost resistance levels, Chen Chiu-mei, EAST’s director said.

Chen said the EU has banned the use of battery cages in egg production this year, urging people to buy eggs produced in more humane conditions.

She said only 10 local egg farmers produce free-range eggs, with three of them raising hens in barns and seven raising free range hens.

Of the seven, only one farmer produces organic eggs, Chen said. The Nantou County farmer’s eggs are sold for NT$6 (20 U.S. cents) each, compared with NT$2 for an egg from a battery hen and NT$4 for one with a Certified Agriculture Standard label, she added.

Meanwhile, Chou Wen-ling, an official with the Council of Agriculture (COA), also encouraged consumers to purchase free-range eggs to promote more humane farming practices. She did not however elaborate on if Taiwan has plans to follow the EU’s decision to ban battery hen cages.

According to EAST, Taiwan produces some 6.7 billion eggs annually and each person consumes about 290 eggs each year.