Two local farms get Certified Humane mark for cage-free eggs, chickens

Not sure if a chicken or an egg labelled cage-free is really so?

Consumers can now set their minds at ease with two local farms among the first in South-east Asia to receive the Certified Humane label by American non-profit organisation Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC).

Singapore's Toh Thye San Farm, which has its farms in Malaysia, has been certified for its cage-free GG French Poulet chickens, a breed of chicken from Sabres, France, that are sold to restaurants and food businesses here.

Meanwhile, local egg supplier Chew's Agriculture has received certification for its cage-free egg-laying hen houses.

A third farm, Liang Kee Farming in Malaysia, has free-range eggs with the Certified Humane label.

This was announced on Friday at a press conference in conjunction with the second Disruption in Food and Sustainability Summit, a flagship event of the Alliance for a Responsible Future, which is a not-for-profit corporate engagement programme.

Mr Edvin Lim, 28, director of Chew's Agriculture, said: "Many local organisations want to get cage-free eggs, but they want them certified. This will be a great help to market our product. The farm is prepared to increase production, but there must also be demand."

Chew's Agriculture will increase cage-free production by 200 per cent when it moves to its new farm in Neo Tiew Road by the year end.

Currently, cage-free eggs make up 10 per cent of the company's total egg production and only 5 per cent gets sold due to lack of demand.

Its cage-free eggs are priced at $3.20 for six eggs on Redmart, the same as cage-free eggs from homegrown egg producer The Freedom Range Company.

Other cage-free egg and chicken options on the site are imported.

The certification process started in December, and the companies were certified by February, said Mr Luiz Hazzon, HFAC's director in charge of regional operations.

The standards set by HFAC include antibiotic-free diets, and proper shelter, space and resting areas for the chickens to support natural behaviour of foraging, roosting and nesting. And the certification is globally recognised.

There are also local inspectors who do annual checks, he added, along with surprise audits, especially if complaints are received.

HFAC, launched in May 2003, now has more than 200 companies - which represent 6,000 farms and one billion farm animals - on its Certified Humane programme in countries such as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, and Peru.

Both Mr Lim and Mr Kenny Toh of Toh Thye San Farm said there has been minimal change to infrastructure or increase in cost for them to get the certification.

Mr Toh, 35, head of projects for Toh Thye San Farm, said: "Farmers like us have been doing cage-free produce for years, but there's no recognised certifying body in Singapore." He has plans to supply local supermarkets.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2019, with the headline 'Two local farms get Certified Humane mark for cage-free eggs, chickens'. Print Edition | Subscribe