On the heals of the largest egg recall in history in which over a half a billion eggs were recalled from the nation’s 2nd and 3rd largest egg producers, a Humane Society investigator releases truly disturbing video footage from a 28-day undercover investigation at Cal-Maine‘s Texas facility which houses over a million birds. Cal-Maine is the largest producer of eggs in the U.S.with 26 million birds under its control.
The conditions documented in the video include:
- Birds producing eggs for human consumption confined in overcrowded cages with the rotting corpses of other birds.
- Dead hens, trapped under their cages, which had died with their heads on the egg conveyor belts exposing passing eggs to the decaying bird.
- Birds trapped by their wings, necks and legs in the thin, rusty wires of the battery cages.
- Birds with severely injured legs, unable to reach food or water.
- Birds suffering from severe, bloody uterine prolapses enduring the pain of other hens in the overcrowded cages stepping on them.
- Eggs covered in feces and blood.*
Federal regulators at the FDA responsible for our food safety were recently granted more authority to monitor egg producers through the Egg Safety Rule which went into effect just months ago. Organizations like HSUS and other animal welfare and food safety advocacy groups have urged FDA Commissioner Hamburg to act on this Rule as well as advocate much stricter laws and oversight. Up to now the industry has fought back, arguing that their self-regulation policies are working to provide the safest, cheapest and most efficient food system in the world.
The United Egg Producers (UEP) says it maintains an animal welfare program. Yet “If animals cannot even extend their wings, if they never get out of an overcrowded cage, and if they live on wire floors in barren cages without perches, nest boxes, or any enrichments, what does the animal welfare standard really mean?” counters HSUS’s CEO Wayne Pacelle. Clearly these animal welfare measures are an example of what has become known as “humane washing” taken from the term “green washing” which refers to the deceptive marketing of products as green when they truly are not. Cal-Maine has its own promotional video, depicting a much different reality than what is revealed in the HSUS footage.
The other part of this equation is consumer demand and awareness. Studies abound indicating that when consumers witness such investigations, consumption declines dramatically. Therefore, growing consumer awareness is a key factor to confronting the animal welfare, food safety and environmental crises that animal agriculture poses.
To track the developments of this investigation and its repercussions, visit the HSUS site.
*The Humane Society of the United States.