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Morning tea with animal welfare expert

May 25, 2012

Today at the RSPCA Australia office, we had the chance to have morning tea with UK Professor John Webster[1], a leader on animal welfare who works particularly on improving the conditions of farmed animals.

Over coffee and macaron cake, we discussed many topics ranging from how there is a place for higher welfare products on the supermarket shelves to how to educate the community so they make informed food choices that will help the lives of millions of animals.

Inspired by our morning, and since we are in the middle of the Hens Deserve Better campaign, I thought I would share my favourite recipe for French macarons made with cage-free eggs.


Step 1: Beat 140g of cage-free egg whites at a low speed until they start to be solid. Add 90g of caster sugar and keep beating at the same speed until they form peak. Add another 90g of sugar and increase the speed for 2 minutes.

Step 2: Mix 160g of fine almond meal to 160g of icing sugar, then add to the egg white mixture.

Step 3: The ‘macaronage’ is a crucial step.  Fold the almond meal and icing sugar slowly to create a homogenised liquid mixture that looks shiny.  You can also add food colouring at this time.

Step 4: Pipe the macarons on a baking paper and let rest for an hour.

Step 5: It is time to put the macarons in the over at 150 degree for 12 minutes.

Once they are cooled, you can pipe ganache or jam between the shells.

NOTE: You can save the egg yolks for later, perhaps for a lovely frittata!

[1] Professor John Webster is also the original proponent of the ‘Five Freedoms‘.


Hens deserve better this mother’s day

May 9, 2012

Spoil your mum this mother’s day and support the RSPCA’s latest campaign, Hens Deserve Better.

Can you believe over 11 million hens are still confined to barren battery cages here in Australia? Paying that little bit extra for cage-free eggs can make a huge difference to the lives of layer hens – who are beautiful,  smart and inquisitive creatures.

While spending time with your ‘mother hen’ on Sunday, celebrate cage-free hens by treating your mum to something sweet using cage-free eggs.

This fabulous twist on Pavlova is delish … it’s an adaptation of a recipe from ‘cage-free hen fan’, Jamie Oliver (where he also adds toffee and fresh mint leaves – yum)!

Pavlova with Hazelnuts and berries

Meringue ingredients – 

  • 8 cage-free egg whites (RSPCA Approved* eggs are best)
  • 220 grams of castor sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
Topping – 
  • 200g thickened cream**, whipped
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar (whip through cream)
  • 2 cups of mixed berries – raspberries and blueberries are great
  • 1 x cup hazelnuts, roasted in the oven and roughly chopped/crushed


  1. Pre-heat oven – 150 degrees celsius
  2. Whisk egg whites using an electric beater until soft peaks form 
  3. Add sugar, continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth (not grainy from the sugar). 
  4. Whisk in the cornflour, and vinegar until combined.
  5. Spoon mixture onto baking paper – creating rectangle shapes x 2  – these should have a height of at least 2 inches
  6. Reduce the heat in the oven to 120 degrees celsius and place the baking tray in oven
  7. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes. Switch off the oven and leave the meringues to cool 
  8. For serving top the meringue with cream, berries and nuts, then layer with 2nd meringue and repeat.

*RSPCA Approved Eggs are farmed according to the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme Standards.

** Dairy – The sheer scale of commercial dairy production  in Australia has led to some serious animal welfare problems in the dairy industry.  Contact the makers of your favourite dairy products (be they milk, yoghurt or cheese) to find out more about their standards for bobby calf and cow welfare. To find out more visit our website.


Deck the table with humane food

December 23, 2011

Including humanely produced food in your Christmas feast is easier than ever this year.

2011 has been a year of many achievements for animal welfare, including the growth of the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme.  It’s been a year of the ‘ethical consumer’ as more  consumers are interested in knowing where their food comes from and how it’s been produced – as a result of this, more farmers are looking to meet the RSPCA’s independent standards for farm animals.

On RSPCA Approved farms, animals are provided with the freedom and means to express their natural behaviours. These most basic of needs aren’t afforded to pigs, turkeys or chickens in conventional farming systems.

RSPCA Approved farming aims to improve the lives of the millions of farm animals raised for food in Australia every year by getting them out of conventional systems and onto farms that better meet their needs.

With RSPCA Approved pork, ham, turkey and chicken widely available across Australia, making a welfare-friendly Christmas lunch is easier to source than ever before.

Find your nearest stockist by visiting RSPCA – Shop Humane.

From the team at RSPCA Australia, thanks for your commitment to supporting humane food and improving the farming conditions of so many farm animals in 2011.

Wishing you a humane Christmas!

RSPCA Awards ‘Good Eggs’

November 25, 2011

8.5 million eggs is a hard number to comprehend – but that’s the combined total of cage-free eggs used by this year’s Good Egg Award winners.

The lives of tens of thousands of hens each year will be better thanks to these ‘Good Eggs’ – who are leading the way for hen welfare in their respective industries.

The Good Egg Award acknowledge major companies that make the switch to cage-free eggs. Our 2011 national Good Egg Award winners are:

Grill’d – Food Service category
The Coffee Club – Food Service category
The Pancake Parlour – Food Service category
Doodles Creek Mayonnaise – Manufacturing category
Da Vinci Foods – Manufacturing category
The Canberra Hospital, Food Services Division – Public procurement category

These organisations have shown great leadership in their industry and we’d like to recognise  them for their commitment to animal welfare.

Consumers are becoming increasingly interested in how their food is produced, with two-thirds of shoppers concerned about hens in cages. Making the switch to cage-free eggs is  simply giving customers what they want. We encourage consumers to support Good Egg Award winners for showing they care about hens and leading the way by using cage free eggs!

The Good Egg Award began in the UK by Compassion in World Farming. Previous International Good Egg Award winners have included McDonalds UK, Subway UK and  Sainsburys supermarkets.

International winners tell us that receiving a Good Egg Award and helping to get hens  out of cages has made good business sense. It has also boosted staff morale, improved  brand image and reputation, and benefited their bottom line.

We are looking forward to  seeing more Australian based organisations making the switch to cage-free.

2011 Good Egg Award winners in Canberra this week.

This World Egg Day please spare a thought for 11.1 million hens confined in cages

October 13, 2011

This Friday 14 October is World Egg Day – so what better time to put hens before their eggs!

Around 16.3 million layer hens are farmed to produce Australia’s eggs – with over 11 million still confined to cages with less space per bird than 1 A4 sized piece of paper.

Caged hens can’t express their natural behaviours, such as foraging or perching, they can’t stretch their wings or lay their eggs in a nest.

Caged hens live a miserable existence.

While it’s good news that demand for more humanely produced eggs are growing, with 1.1 million hens raised in barns and 4.1 million hens now raised on free range farms, World Egg Day is a time to reflect on the vast majority of hens still confined in cages – in unacceptable farming conditions.

World Egg Day is your chance to make a difference to the lives of layer hens.

As a consumer, your shopping list is your voting card and buying humane eggs when shopping can make a difference to the lives of millions of layer hens.

Don’t forget to Choose Wisely when eating out and support businesses that are Good Eggs.

Email your local state agriculture or primary industries Minister.

You have the power to influence what products you see on the supermarket shelf and get hens out of cages, so make a real difference this World Egg Day!

Note: production figures and image sourced from Australian Egg Corporation Limited.

Which came first…the chicken or the egg?

September 20, 2011

Which came first…the chicken or the egg? Either way – make sure they’re produced humanely and certified by a reputable organisation!

There’s been lots of discussion over the last few weeks relating to egg and meat chicken production in Australia. This is a good thing.  These conversations are bringing the production of chickens into the public arena and hopefully encouraging people to have a greater understanding of where their eggs and chicken meat comes from.

It’s no surprise that consumers are confused about labelling terms. In fact, an RSPCA survey showed that 1 in 4 consumers find animal welfare labels confusing and 1 in 3 consumers don’t trust such labels at all.  And who can blame them when all these terms are thrown at them when choosing products in the supermarket.

The consumer has grown to associate the term ‘free range’ with good animal welfare. But to the RSPCA, good welfare is more than simply allowing animal’s access to the outdoors.

It’s important that consumers begin to understand that welfare goes beyond marketing on pack, brand and product advertising and they look for independent welfare certification by a reputable organisation on eggs and meat.

To make an informed choice, education is key!

Consumers need to understand what ‘conventional’ farming involves and the conditions under which the vast majority of layer hens and meat chickens are raised in Australia. While concern of the welfare issues associated with caged hens is high amongst Australians,  few know or understand the welfare issues associated with the production of meat chickens.

First up, chickens that are used for meat production (also called broiler chickens) are very different from layer hens.  Adding to the confusion are media clips that talk about the plight of meat chickens but show pictures of layer hens, when in actual fact they’re different birds.

Meat Chickens are bred to grow and gain weight very rapidly. They’ve been genetically selected to produce large breast muscle and will grow to slaughter weight in 35 days. They’re not grown in cages (unlike 12 million egg laying hens in Australia) and are not fed hormones.

While they’re not grown in cages like laying hens, the majority of meat chickens are farmed indoors (in barns/sheds), in systems that may house up to 60,000 birds in a single shed. Meat chickens may be kept in dim light for 23 hours a day to discourage movement and increase food intake, which basically makes them very meaty, very quickly. The majority of meat chickens in Australia live in barren environments with no possibility for behavioural stimulation.

Meat chickens in these systems can suffer some serious problems, including:

  • leg problems, including lameness and bone breakages
  • heart and eye abnormalities
  • feet and hock burns
  • breast blisters.
Their legs may be unable to support them, leaving them unable to access food and water, and suffering from hock and foot burn due to increased contact with the litter.

The large size of the chickens also affects stocking density, especially at the end of the growing period. Lack of space results in lack of exercise, which increases the incidence of lameness. This, in turn, increases the birds’ contact with the litter, causing foot pad burn, hock burn and breast blisters if the litter is not well managed. Chickens may die from heat stress caused by the cramped conditions in the shed.

The RSPCA is working directly with farmers to improve the welfare of meat chickens.  The RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme includes production standards for meat chickens which can be raised indoors in sheds/barns or in a system where birds can access an outdoor area (Free Range). The RSPCA Standards are based on catering for the birds physical and behavioural needs.

By reducing stocking density, providing appropriate lighting and providing an environment that encourages natural behaviour, significant welfare problems can be prevented. The RSPCA is also interested in seeing a slower growing bird introduced into Australian meat chicken production.

Visit Shop Humane to find your nearest stockist of RSPCA Approved chicken.

Freedom Farms – the latest RSPCA Approved Chicken to hit the shelves

September 7, 2011

We’re very proud to announce the latest RSPCA Approved chicken, Freedom Farms has hit supermarket shelves in selected IGA’s, Harris Farm Markets, and Supabarn stores.

The RSPCA Paw of Approval can be found on Freedom Farms Chicken, which means this chicken comes from animals that were treated according to animal welfare standards developed and assessed by the RSPCA.

Approved Farming is the RSPCA’s farm assurance and food labelling scheme dedicated to improving the welfare of farm animals. RSPCA Approved farms are monitored closely to ensure the RSPCA’s high animal welfare standards are maintained and animals on these farms are provided with an environment that meets their behavioural and physical needs.  The auditing process is robust and farms that supply Freedom Farms Chicken will be assessed by the Scheme’s dedicated farm assessors at least 4 times over the coming year.

So now it’s easy to make a difference to the lives of farm animals next time you’re shopping – simply purchase RSPCA Approved, Freedom Farms chicken at your local independent retailer.  By purchasing these products you are not only helping animals, you are also supporting Australian farmers that are choosing to farm to higher welfare standards. So that’s good news for farm animals and for Australian farmers.

The range includes; breasts,  drumsticks, whole birds, thighs and wings.  Stockists can be found by visiting Shop Humane and remember if you can’t find Freedom Farms chicken at your local, independent retailer – please encourage them to stock it.