Countdown has removed Palace Poultry eggs from their shelves after reports caged eggs were being sold as free range.

"Food quality and the integrity of the products on our shelves is paramount to us. We have removed all Palace Poultry products from our shelves as of this morning. We have been in contact with the supplier and informed them of this. Palace Poultry sold eggs to us as free range eggs," Countdown said.

The Newsroom website is reporting this morning that millions of caged eggs were sold by Palace Poultry as free range.

"Palace Poultry are audited under the Ministry of Primary Industry's Registered Risk Management Programme. As at today, the MPI website gives their current status as 'active', which means they have met the criteria of their risk management programme as a free range egg supplier," the supermarket chain said.


"We are in discussions with MPI, who can address questions about how standards are set and verification."

"Palace Poultry do not supply any of Countdown's own brands of eggs," Countdown said.

A company called Howard Fletcher, trading as Ararimu Free Range Eggs, is associated with the Palace Poultry brand.

The Herald called the home of Terry Fletcher, one of the company's directors, but he was unavailable according to a man who answered the phone.

"We've been instructed not to speak to the media," said the man, who did not identify himself.

"That's all I have to say, thank you," he said, before ending the call.

MPI said they are not investigating the situation "because there is no evidence to suggest that there are any breaches under the legislation MPI is responsible for regulating."

The SPCA Blue Tick is the only 100 per cent independent accreditation focused on high animal welfare in New Zealand. All SPCA Blue Tick labelled eggs come from farms approved by the SPCA to adhere to strict high welfare standards.

The SPCA Blue Tick is only given to layer hen farms and the organisation does not approve of or certify battery or colony cage systems.

The egg brands with the SPCA Blue Tick are:
Henergy Cage Free
The Natural Free Range Co
Higgins Family Free Range
Uncaged Hens
Pams Cage Free
Bon Appetit
The Ultimate Egg Company
Golden Down Organic Free Range
Doug's Free Range Eggs
Simply Cage Free
Ewing Poultry