October 10, 2014
On World Egg Day, HSI Urges Consumers to Make More Compassionate Food Choices
As food retailers, egg producers and industry associations celebrate World Egg Day, attempting to get consumers to consume more eggs, Humane Society International – HSI, one of the world’s largest animal protection NGOs, is asking consumers to look at the reality behind egg production. The organization listed three key reasons to ask consumers to avoid eggs produced by hens confined in cages so small that hens can barely even walk, and opt for more compassionate and sustainable alternatives.
Reason 1: Conventional egg production is cruel
In Brazil, the vast majority of egg-laying hens spend their whole lives –or up to two years- confined in battery cages, where they can barely move. On average, each caged laying hen has less space than a single sheet of letter-sized paper on which to live her entire life. Unable to even fully spread their wings, hens in battery cages cannot carry out most of their natural behaviors, such as nesting, perching and dust bathing, all important for their well-being.
Reason 2: The world is moving away from cages
Battery cages are considered so cruel that they have been banned in all the 27 member countries of the European Union, New Zealand and Bhutan. In India, the world’s third largest egg producing country, the majority of states have declared that cages violate the national anti-animal cruelty legislation. The country is now considering a national ban on battery cages.
Leading food companies—like Burger King, Subway, Sodexo and Compass Group—are already using cage-free eggs at some of their U.S. and European locations, and Unilever, the manufacturer of Hellmann’s and Arisco mayonnaises, has announced that by 2020, it will only purchase eggs produced in cage-free systems globally, including in Brazil. Nestlé, the largest food company in the world, has followed suit this year, by also announcing a global cage-free policy. Heinz also has pledged to gradually phase out caged eggs and already sells mayonnaise made with free-range eggs in Brazil.
By refusing to consume or purchase eggs from battery cages, consumers can send a clear message to food companies and producers in Brazil that they oppose the lifelong immobilization of hens in cages, and want them to adopt the same policies here.
Reason 3: More compassionate alternatives exist
In Brazil, there are more humane production systems that do not use cages, including cage-free, free-range and organic. Not only do free-range and organic certification in the country prohibit confinement in battery cages, they also require that the birds have access to outdoor areas where they can exercise and carry out more natural behaviors, such as foraging. Another alternative are eggs labelled as “Certified Humane”. This certification does not necessarily mean that hens have access to outdoor areas, but cages are not allowed and hens can roam inside sheds with areas for nesting, foraging, perching and dust-bathing.
While cage-free does not necessarily mean cruelty-free (even in cage-free systems male chicks are usually ground up alive upon hatching, have part of their beaks burned off, a painful mutilation and may suffer during long distance transportation to slaughter) cage-free hens have more space to move around and express more natural behaviors, like laying their eggs in nests, spreading their wings and perching.
People can also eat more compassionately by reducing your consumption of eggs. It is easy to prepare egg-free versions of almost any dish or dessert, and plenty of substitutes for eggs are out there.
Carolina Galvani, email@example.com, + 55 11 98208 9645