We have many options for eggs in the supermarket, but we should exercise caution in trusting the labels, as there are few regulations surrounding food labelling in Indonesia.
As in many other countries, words like “organic,” “natural,” and “healthy” are marketing tactics that do not necessarily ring true. Further to impacting (or not impacting) our health as desired, there is also an animal welfare issue, as many farms in Indonesia are still utilising conventional battery-cage farm methods, which are widely regarded as cruel, and have been banned in many countries across the globe.
Other farming methods, such as cage-free, or free-range provide the animal a more comfortable environment, room to spread their wings, feed, peck, and lay eggs as they would in a natural habitat. Reducing stress on the animal reduces the risk of premature deaths and infection and thus reduces the need for antibiotics. In battery-cage systems, antibiotics are often used regularly, as a preventive measure, which can cause medicine-resistant superbugs in both the animals and the humans consuming the products. Additionally, the conditions in battery-cage systems are grotesque. Multiple hens are packed into the cages, with no room to move. Cages are stacked on top of each other and are typically not cleaned. It is unsanitary and the risk of salmonella poisoning from the eggs that are produced is higher.
The Farm Animal Care Alliance (FACA) is a coalition supported by Sinergia Animal, which is an NGO operating across Latin America and Southeast Asia and is devoted to improving animal welfare in farming practices for food production, and Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN). This group has recently combined forces in Jakarta to improve the welfare of egg-laying hens and has researched the issues extensively. In their investigations of farming practices in Indonesia, they have concluded that almost all farms in Indonesia use battery-cage methods.
Consumers have the power to make positive change by influencing the market where regulations for farming, food production, and food labelling may fail. We can choose eggs that are farmed with better animal welfare and food safety standards.
So far, only one farm has been recognised as using higher animal welfare standards and good sanitary practices. Healthy Eggs farm in Sukabumi, just south of Jakarta, is devoted to farming healthy eggs and has adopted a cage-free system. When FACA visited the facility, they were impressed with the cleanliness, reduced use of antibiotics, no harsh chemical treatments, and generally pleasant environment for the laying hens. If you wish to purchase these eggs, you can find them in the brown boxes in the following stores in Jakarta and various places in Bandung. Healthy Eggs stockists:
• Ranch Market
• Farmer’s Market
• Kem Chicks
• Total Buah
• Duta Buah
• Koki Fruit
• Market City
• Grand Lucky
IT’S A START
FACA’s work will continue across Indonesia in investigating farms, offering best-practices and technical expertise to farmers who wish to switch to cage-free, lobbying corporations that purchase large quantities of eggs, and embarking on hunts to find more farms that may already be producing ethical eggs.
Some large corporations offering egg products have their own policies mandating the use of egg suppliers that use cage-free systems in European and North American countries, yet their Indonesian business units have not followed suit. It is the hope of FACA that these companies will make a pledge to move towards the use of suppliers that farm more ethically. If you wish to get involved, or would like more information, check their website at www.farmanimalcarealliance.com.
In the meantime, heed the warning for misleading advertising on egg products, and opt for brands you know are producing healthier, more ethical eggs.