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Taiwanese authorities have formally announced new food traceability regulations that require battery cage eggs to disclose their system of production
Under the new regulations unveiled by the Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan (COA), a letter of the alphabet denoting the housing system the egg was laid in will be stamped on eggshell exteriors as part of a two-line traceability code. The measures will initially apply to all washed eggs sold in the retail market, warehouse retailers, e-commerce platforms and other channels before expanding to cover all forms of eggs.
Taiwan’s labelling regulations already require free-range, barn and enriched cage eggs to label the housing system on their packaging. However, eggs from conventional cages are exempt from labelling requirements, leaving the consumer with no information about the egg’s source.
“The new stamping regulations are a win for consumers and will make it easier for shoppers to confirm that the eggs they are buying are truly cage-free,” said Yu-Min Chen, deputy chief executive of the Environment & Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST).
“We congratulate the government on empowering consumers to make conscious purchasing positions and increasing transparency about where our food comes from,” she said. We urge authorities to quickly expand the stamping requirements to all eggs regardless of where they are sold, and mandate the labelling of battery cage eggs on product packaging,” added Chen.
Starting January 1, 2022, consumers will be able to identify the housing system by observing the final digit of a two-line traceability code. Letters will be used to distinguish eggs between organic as ‘O’, ‘F’ for free-range and ‘B’ barn farms that allow hens to engage in natural lifespan behaviours like nesting, dust bathing, and perching. Conventional cage and enriched cage systems will be identifiable by the letters ‘C’ and ‘E’.
Taiwan is said to be following the footsteps of South Korea and the European Union, which both include housing systems in their eggshell stamping requirements.
The move is the latest in a series of measures by Taiwan’s government that point to an increasingly cage-free future, including strengthening laying hen welfare regulations, reducing the interest rate for low-interest government loans and launching policy evaluation to explore the impact of phasing out conventional battery cages.
The stamping scheme was first trialled in school lunches from September 2019. In addition to the housing system, the traceability code will also feature the identification numbers of farms and egg washing facilities and the date of packing.
The working code will link to the online Taiwan Agriculture and Food Traceability System, making it easier to trace eggs through each stage of the supply chain.