Taiwanese authorities have formally announced new food traceability regulations that for the first time require battery cage eggs to disclose their system of production.
Under the new regulations, 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 by convenience stores, supermarkets, hypermarkets, warehouse retailers, e-commerce platforms and other channels before expanding to cover all 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, leading to confusion for consumers.
“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 Ms. Chen.
From January 1, 2022, consumers will be able to identify the housing system by looking at the final digit of a two-line traceability code.
Consumers will be able to choose between eggs laid on (O) organic, (F) free range, or (B) barn farms that allow hens to engage in natural behaviors like nesting, dust bathing, and perching. Conventional cage and enriched cage systems will be identifiable by the letters (C) and (E).
Taiwan is 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 a 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 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.
Yu-Min Chen, Deputy Chief Executive
Environment & Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST)
Mobile: +886 (9) 1015 0908
Phone: +886 (2) 2236 9735