Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 165–186

The Happy Hen on Your Supermarket Shelf

What Choice Does Industrial Strength Free-Range Represent for Consumers?

DOI: 10.1007/s11673-013-9448-5

Cite this article as:
Parker, C., Brunswick, C. & Kotey, J. Bioethical Inquiry (2013) 10: 165. doi:10.1007/s11673-013-9448-5


This paper investigates what “free-range” eggs are available for sale in supermarkets in Australia, what “free-range” means on product labelling, and what alternative “free-range” offers to cage production. The paper concludes that most of the “free-range” eggs currently available in supermarkets do not address animal welfare, environmental sustainability, and public health concerns but, rather, seek to drive down consumer expectations of what these issues mean by balancing them against commercial interests. This suits both supermarkets and egg producers because it does not challenge dominant industrial-scale egg production and the profits associated with it. A serious approach to free-range would confront these arrangements, and this means it may be impossible to truthfully label many of the “free-range” eggs currently available in the dominant supermarkets as free-range.


Animals Ethics Food supply 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Monash UniversityFaculty of Law, Monash University Law ChambersMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Monash UniversitySchool of Political and Social Inquiry, Faculty of ArtsClaytonAustralia

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