23 September 2010

Humane Society becomes Lance shareholder to encourage more humane practices

This week the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced that it has become a stockholder of N.C. based Lance, Inc. in an effort to encourage the snack food giant to switch its egg production towards using only cage free hens. The HSUS intends to use its stockholder position to move the company away from using eggs from hens confined in battery cages - inhumane and unsanitary enclosures so small that the birds cannot even spread their wings.

"Lance's exclusive use of eggs from caged hens puts the company at odds with growing public and corporate opposition to farm family cruelty," says Kristie Middleton, corporate outreach manager for the HSUS's factory farming campaign. "As a shareholder, The Humane Society of the United States will urge the company to make meaningful animal welfare reforms, like switching to cage free eggs."

Last year, a Lance egg supplier was the subject of an undercover investigation that revealed hens were forced to live in cages with the decomposing corpses of their cage-mates, sick and injured birds, and severe food safety concerns. The undercover video taken mirrors similar investigations at other major battery hen producers nationwide.

Throughout America, a cage free movement has taken root and public concern has prompted many large food companies to change the way they produce food. Pepperidge Farm and Sara Lee are switching millions of eggs away from the battery system; Hellmann's mayonnaise recently announced it will convert all 350 million eggs it used annually to cage free; many restaurants including Subway, Burger King, Wendy's, Denny's and Quizno's use cafe free eggs; Wal-mart, Costco, Safeway and Harris Teeter have increased their sales of cage free eggs and also Charlotte based Compass Group (the world's largest food service provider) has switched 100 million eggs to cage free.

Facts provided by the Humane Society:
  • U.S. factory farms house around 280 million hens in cages so small they cannot spread their wings. Extensive scientific research conforms the suffering this causes the birds.
  • Cage-free hens generally have two to three times more space than caged hens. They are still not permitted to go outside, and like caged hens may have part of their beaks cut off, but they can walk, spread their wings and lay eggs in a nest - all behaviors permanently denied to the hens crammed into cages.
  • Factory farming is still a major social issue and has been discussed recently on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Time Magazine and The American Conservative.

Bev Hahler | @redhotvegan
Bev, a vegetarian since she was 14 years old, became more interested in veganism several years ago after studying Agro-business as part of an Ecology degree. Follow Bev on her blog and Facebook.

Photo credit: Farm Sanctuary