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Tesco criticised for battery eggs

Tesco has been condemned by animal rights campaigners for continuing to sell eggs from battery chickens. The animal welfare group Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) awarded Britain's biggest retailer a "Rotten Egg" in the 2008 Good Egg Awards, which are designed to encourage responsible sourcing by businesses. Sainsbury's, the Co-op and Waitrose have banned sales of eggs from battery chickens.

Cadbury Schweppes and Unilever will receive an award for respectively switching Crème Eggs and Hellmann's mayonnaise free range. McDonald's award recognises its commitment to phase out eggs from caged birds across its European outlets by 2010.

Morrisons will be commended for going free-range on own label eggs.

The Independent is the media sponsor of the awards, which will be presented by the actress and campaigner Joanna Lumley at the House of Commons tomorrow.

CIWF said that although Asda also had a poor record on eggs, it was targeting Tesco because its dominant 28 per cent market share meant that it was highly influential. "Tesco could send a very strong signal to consumers, retailers and farmers by going free-range," said Dr Lesley Lambert, CIWF's research director.

"Alternatively, they could demonstrate by dragging their heels and by saying what they always say: 'We'll let the customers choose' that they don't care about animal welfare."

Tesco sells 360 million eggs a year from 1.2 million caged hens. The retailer infuriated animal welfare campaigners by selling a £2 broiler chicken earlier this year, shortly after the chefs High Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver showed conditions for the animals.

Tesco said it had cut shelf space given to eggs from caged hens and made their labels clearer. A spokeswoman said: "We serve a broad range of customers so we will continue to offer a range of standard eggs that are all clearly labelled so that shoppers can make an informed choice. We always listen to customers and many of them tell us they are on a tight budget and rely on us to provide affordable good quality food."

See a full list of Good Egg Award winners at thegoodeggawards.com