Oct 5, 2009
Although many humanely-raised meat and dairy products are finding their way onto store shelves, it is often difficult to distinguish them from ubiquitous intensively-raised options. For shoppers who are just starting a humane diet, the search for these products can be daunting, but there is one grocery aisle where choosing a humane option is easier.
Inside Egg-Laying “Factories”
The majority of poultry in the United States is farmed intensively in battery cages - tiny wire pens that provide a hen no more space than a single sheet of letter-sized paper. Up to 90,000 egg-laying hens can be kept in one shed, in stacks of cages so small that they cannot walk, stretch their wings, peck, or perch. To prevent the closely confined birds from pecking each other, farmers often slice off the tips of their beaks using a red-hot blade, which can cause prolonged pain and disability. Laying hens caged for a second year are often “force-molted” in order to produce eggs more quickly. This practice involves depriving them of water and starving them for up to two weeks. Hens are slaughtered at one or two years old, after it is deemed that they have matured past their productivity.
Today it is easy to find alternatives to factory-farmed eggs. Shoppers can make a real difference in preventing cruelty to hens by switching their brand of eggs to one that meets the World Society for the Protection of Animal’s (WSPA) “best” standard. “Best” brands include a “Certified Humane,” “American Humane Certified” or “Animal Welfare Approved” label on the packaging and ensures the eggs came from hens who were not given hormones or non-therapeutic antibiotics, were not continuously confined, and were allowed to engage in natural behaviors.
On your next shopping trip keep your eyes peeled for humane labels on these easy-to-find brands:
Born Free (Certified Humane and Cage Free and USDA Organic)
Cyd's Nest Fresh (Certified Humane)
Egg Innovations (Certified Humane and Cage Free)
Eggland's Best (American Humane Certified)
Eggology (Certified Humane and Cage Free and USDA Organic)
Giving Nature (Certified Humane)
Go-Organic Omega 3 (Certified Humane and Cage Free and USDA Organic)
Nellie's Nest (Certified Humane and Cage Free)
Pete & Gerry's (Certified Humane and Cage Free and USDA Organic)
Phil's Fresh Eggs (American Humane Certified)
Sunrise Fresh (Certified Humane and Cage Free)
To read more about humane labels or find humane options at your local grocery store, access the WSPA humane grocery database at http://www.eathumane.org/.
WSPA and its partners are working to phase out intensive farming systems and replace them with more humane alternatives that are kinder to the animals, safer for humans, and better for the environment. Ultimately if consumers change what they are buying -- even just their brand of eggs -- the impact can be enormous.