On Monday, May 10th, the Better Business Bureau of the
United States issued a ruling to the United Egg Producers, the U.S. egg
industry's trade association, which said that "the egg industry should
stop advertising its products as humane as long as it continues such
practices as clipping hens' beaks and depriving birds of food and water."
The Better Business Bureau recommended that the United Egg
Producers either discontinue labeling eggs as "Animal Care Certified," or
significantly alter it to stop misleading consumers.
Two years ago, in a public relations move, the U.S. egg
industry created the "Animal Care Certified" program, and egg producers
began labeling egg cartons with an "Animal Care Certified" logo, fooling
consumers into believing the eggs come from humanely treated hens when, in
fact, the birds are still overcrowded in barren wire cages.
Among the cruel industry practices cited by the Better
Business Bureau were forced molting, which is the intentional withholding
of food and water to increase egg production; beak clipping, without
anesthesia, to prevent birds from pecking each other; and overcrowding of
chickens in battery cages that don't allow them to flap their wings or
Last year, the Washington DC based group Compassion Over
Killing filed petitions with the Federal Trade Commission, the Food and
Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, alleging that
the "Animal Care Certified" logo on egg cartons is false advertising and
should be prohibited.
That is also the essence of the ruling issued by the
Better Business Bureau. This ruling was prompted by Compassion Over
Killing's campaign and is an important victory for animal advocates and
for the birds. Paul Shapiro, Campaigns Director for COK, said that he
hoped the ruling would lead the egg industry to follow the lead of
European countries like Switzerland and Germany that have or soon will ban
chicken cages altogether in their egg industries.
Forced molting is an economic practice based on greed. The
reason for starving laying birds is to extend their "economically useful
life." During a forced molting, farmers don't have to feed the birds and
can feed them cheap, inferior rations before and afterward. Since the
1960s, forced molting has become a dominant practice in the U.S. egg
Hens are forced to produce 10 times the amount of eggs
that they would produce naturally. Each hen produces about 300 eggs per
year. This is twice as many eggs as a hen produced fifty years ago, and it
compares with only 12-20 eggs produced each year by their wild ancestors.
This means that each egg represents almost a full day of suffering and
confinement for one bird.
Battery hens live in an atmosphere poisoned by their own
wastes. Ammonia from the decomposing uric acid in the manure pits beneath
their cages causes burned eyes and chronic respiratory disease in millions
of hens. The battery cage has created an ugly new disease in laying hens
called fatty liver hemorrhagic syndrome, in which their livers become
enlarged and covered with blood clots.
Calcium deficiency and osteoporosis are rampant among
factory farmed chickens. The increased demands for egg production causes
chickens to use up their calcium at a greatly increased rate. The loss of
calcium results in broken bones, paralysis and death. Thirty-five percent
of all mortalities among laying hens are attributable to fragile bones.
Since male chicks born of layers are of a different breed
than chickens raised for meat, the males chicks are of no value to the
industry and are either tossed live into a grinding machine to become
rendered protein for animal feed, or tossed into rubbish bins alive along
with everyday trash, there to suffocate as other bodies pile on top of
them. Recently it was reported that at two California farms, workers put
30,000 live hens into wood chippers.
There is no room for sentiment in the egg industry, only
excuses and PR.
It was estimated that approximately 60 percent of hens
nationwide and 90 percent of hens in California were force molted. In 1993
food withdrawal was cited as the primary method of manipulating egg
production in the United States. According to the USDA, "At any given time
in the United States over six million hens are being systematically
starved by the poultry and egg industries."
Of the 10 billion animals slaughtered in the U.S. each
year for food, nine billion are chickens. We seem to be a race of bird
eaters and eaters of their eggs. Is this what we mean by our claim that we
are at the top of the food chain?
Don't be a part of the cruelty that is represented by
eggs. Don't be part of the pain and cruelty that comes with each egg.
Don't believe the egg industry's false advertising of "Animal Care
Certified" or "Free Range." Do you really think they are free?
Cruelty-Free means Egg-Free. Go Vegan.
For more information go to
United Poultry Concerns [UPC] -
Go on to Animal Ethics
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