8 Apr 2016

Under-fire chicken farm owned by Foodstuffs director's family

8:09 pm on 8 April 2016

The Waikato farm on which hens were found starving and mistreated is owned by the family of Foodstuffs director and former Fonterra chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden.

Supermarket company Countdown announced yesterday it would stop selling eggs from the farm, which was at the centre of an undercover investigation.

But Foodstuffs supermarket chains New World and Pak 'n Save were still selling the eggs.

In a statement, Foodstuffs said it had not yet seen the evidence which would require them to take the eggs off its shelves.

But it said, like any large company, it had processes to manage any conflicts of interest.

A video taken as part of the undercover investigation had revealed hens packed into filthy, overcrowded colony cages and laying eggs on the rotting bodies of others.

Animal advocacy group SAFE (Save Animals From Exploitation), which laid a complaint with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) over the footage, said it was proof the new colony cages were no more humane than battery cages, which would be banned from 2022.

MPI said yesterday it had found some breaches of minimum standards at the farm, but those did not meet the threshold for prosecution.

It said it was satisfied corrective action had been taken and would follow up to make sure of that.

All cage-made eggs must go, protesters say

Countdown said yesterday it did not stock any colony-caged eggs from the farm, but it did sell a small number of conventionally caged eggs supplied by it under the brand Morning Harvest.

It said it would remove those eggs from its shelves until it was satisfied standards were met.

But a small group of protesters from Farmwatch, who gathered outside Countdown stores in Auckland and Wellington this morning, said Countdown's move was not good enough.

One protester, Jasmine Gray, said the supermarket needed to stop selling any cage eggs.

"They've pulled any eggs from that farm at the moment, but I think that this is kind of a red herring, because it is not just about this farm, it's about all cage farms in New Zealand, and we want to see a move away from cages."

She said Countdown's parent company, Woolworths Australia, had committed to going cage-free by 2018.

Countdown said Woolworths Australia operated in a market with a different supply chain, and under a different regulatory environment, than in New Zealand.