An egg carton with a picture of a happy hen in a farmyard was ruled illegal Tuesday because the chickens actually spend their lives in tiny cages.
The Oslo city court ruled that the picture violates Norwegian marketing law because it could mislead consumers into believing that they were buying eggs from free-range hens.
The Norwegian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which has been campaigning against caging hens, filed the suit, arguing that the idyllic scene was too far from the chickens’ reality.
“The cages are very small. The hens have enough room to stand up or move a little, but they can’t spread their wings,” society veterinarian Nina Svendsby said in a telephone interview.
“We think the cages deprive the hens of any form of normal activity.”
The Norwegian Egg Central, an umbrella group for egg producers, said the picture was not supposed to be a literal representation of a chicken’s accommodations.
“It must be permissible to have an appetizing and appealing picture of a product. You don’t show pictures from a slaughterhouse when you’re trying to sell meat,” egg marketing manager Arild Husefjeld told the Norwegian news agency NTB.
The group has two months to decide whether to appeal.