The Humane Society of the United States is urging natural foods retailers to join its new campaign to eradicate cage-produced eggs.
HSUS is spending millions of dollars on its No Battery Eggs program, which will target retailers and college foodservice operations. Retailers and college cafeterias that agree to sell or use only cage-free eggs can display HSUS signs, brochures and other materials endorsing eggs labeled ?cage-free,? ?organic? and ?free-range.?
?By adopting a policy of selling only eggs from uncaged birds, natural foods retailers will benefit from extensive multimedia promotion by the HSUS—not only to our 8.5 million members and constituents, but also to the public at large,? said HSUS Chief Executive Wayne Pacelle.
HSUS is in discussions with a large natural foods chain to adopt cage-free egg standards and with Aramark to use cage-free eggs in its college foodservice operations, said HSUS Corporate Campaigns Manager Linda Nealon.
?The most egregious practice for farm animals is caged birds, so we?re taking on the most egregious problem first,? she said. ?Most consumers, and even many retailers, don?t know that there are 300 million birds kept in cages in the United States.?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in the United States in 2002, 98 percent of the hens that produced eggs were confined in battery cages. There are generally three hens to a cage, and each bird is restricted to a space equivalent to about half a sheet of letter-sized paper, according to a United Egg Producers study. Consequently, the hens can?t stand, turn around, preen, flap their wings or nest. The No Battery Eggs program is modeled after the Animal Compassion Foundation, an Austin, Texas-based nonprofit research and education group launched by Whole Foods Market in January.
Vicky Uhland is a Denver-based freelance writer.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVI/number 4/p. 18