Corazon Miller is a NZ Herald reporter

Stars say it's time to put chicken before the egg

Celebs join call for supermarket to stop stocking cage eggs.
Westside star Antonia Prebble backs the Safe campaign. Photo / Norrie Montgomery
Westside star Antonia Prebble backs the Safe campaign. Photo / Norrie Montgomery

Kiwi celebrities have joined a campaign aimed at getting supermarket giant Countdown to pull cage eggs off its shelves.

Animal rights organisation Safe has called on Countdown bosses to "set a date" for phasing out the sale of eggs sourced from caged hens.

Actor Emmett Skilton, 28, said it was a cruel practice and he wanted Countdown to lead by example.

"It always comes down to alternatives: if there is one that protects animal welfare then we need the alternative."

The campaigners want to see only free range or barn eggs on shelves.

Writer and TV presenter Kevin Milne said hens did not belong in cages. "It doesn't belong in these more enlightened days."

Other well-known Kiwis backing the campaign include Antonia Prebble, Robyn Malcolm, Jaquie Brown, Ben Barrington, Joe Cotton and Suzanne Paul.

Safe campaigner Mandy Carter said setting a date to phase out the sale of eggs from caged hens should be achievable.

She said Countdown was being targeted because its parent company, Woolworths Australia, plans to end the practice from 2018.

"It makes sense: if they did it in Australia, why not here?"

She said it was distressing to see hens caged. "They spend their lives in a cage, the day they get out is the day they die."

Actor Emmett Skilton.
Actor Emmett Skilton.

Countdown's general manager of merchandise, Chris Fisher, said the situation in Australia was not comparable to New Zealand.

"Woolworths Australia's pledge was made within a market with a different supply chain and under a different regulatory environment."

Countdown offered customers a choice between free range, barn and cage eggs. "In this respect we are no different to other major retailers."

Antoinette Laird, the head of external relations for Foodstuffs, which manages Pak'nSave and New World, said the poultry industry did not have enough capacity to supply exclusively non-cage eggs, given customer demand.

"We believe it's important to maintain the affordability of an important dietary product such as eggs to all consumers."

Skilton said it was disappointing that it came down to money. "It's disheartening to see animals treated that way just for money."

- Herald on Sunday

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