The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and Compassion Over Killing (COK) filed a petition calling upon the Food and Drug Administration to order the full disclosure of production methods including the identification of “eggs from caged hens” on all egg cartons sold within the United States.
The request, initially submitted to the FDA in 2006, comes as lawmakers met this week to question egg farm executives concerning this summer’s salmonella outbreak that sickened more than 1,500 egg consumers. For four years, the FDA has failed to act upon this serious consumer protection measure, which is now all the more urgent as studies link eggs from hens kept in tiny wire cages, like the half billion eggs just recalled, to an increased risk of salmonella.
Consumers have a right to know if the eggs which they are buying originate from caged hens or those that are so-called free roaming. Most consumers oppose the confinement of hens in cages, yet more than 95% of the eggs produced in the U.S. come from battery-caged hens. If we don’t have some sort of standards set in place then egg farmers could place fraudulent labels on their cartons stating that their eggs are cage-free when they indeed are not.
Study after study has shown that hens that are kept confined, such as those in wire cages, run a much higher risk of developing salmonella, thus passing the infected eggs on to the consumers. In spite of this, the egg industry vehemently opposes required egg production labeling on cartons. Erica Meier, executive director of Compassion Over Killing, asked a most thought provoking question, “What’s the egg industry trying to hide?” Perhaps they feel if consumers really knew how hens were treated, by being confined in wire-cages where they can barely move; if at all, and saw the conditions in which they were kept, the egg industry would have to change how they treat their hens.
There are already mandatory disclosure labeling of eggs from caged hens on egg cartons throughout the European Union and Australia. Animal welfare related claims on egg cartons are almost entirely unchecked in the U.S., thus rendering federal oversight necessary in order to protect consumers from a variety of false and deceptive claims found on egg cartons nationwide. Consumers in the U.S. deserve this much.
Copies of the petition to the FDA are available upon request.
Photo credit: Farm Sanctuary