Letter: Free the hens

Sir: I was pleased to read Nicholas Schoon's article outlining the cruelty inherent in battery farming and urging the Government to take the lead in securing a ban ("Assault and battery", 27 January).

The RSPCA has been campaigning for many years for an end to the battery cage system and for clear, mandatory labelling on eggs so that consumers know exactly how they have been produced.

Last year we commissioned a Mori survey which showed that 77 per cent of shoppers were prepared to pay more for free-range eggs, while 89 per cent of people believed that eggs produced from hens living in battery cages should be labelled as such.

Freedom Food, the RSPCA's own food welfare labelling scheme, only endorses free range and barn systems that employ high welfare standards devised and monitored by the society. The huge success of the scheme is proof of the public's growing demand for welfare-friendly products and demonstrates that such alternative systems are financially viable.

The future of the egg industry rests with consumers. To help remove the battery cage, shoppers must vote with their purses.


Director General


Horsham, West Sussex