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September 3, 2014

Unilever: Killing of Male Chicks in Egg Industry Must End

World’s Third Largest Consumer Products Company to Work with Egg Industry to Eliminate this Abuse

Humane Society International/India

  • iStockphoto

Global food giant Unilever, manufacturer of Hellman’s and Best Foods mayonnaise, Ben & Jerry’s and other iconic international brands,  announced it is going to work to prevent the destruction –via maceration and suffocation – of baby male chicks in the egg industry. The move, which addresses a largely hidden and once seemingly unavoidable animal welfare problem, is applauded by Humane Society International. The company was previously lauded by HSI for its decision to end the use of battery cage eggs in its global supply chain by shifting entirely to cage-free eggs. 

N.G. Jayasimha, managing director of HSI-India said: “We applaud Unilever’s leadership in animal welfare. By working to end the mass grinding of male chicks and exploring plant-based ingredients to replace eggs, they are helping to drive major advancements in the egg industry.”

Maceration, a little known part of egg production, is the mass killing of male chicks—of no use to the industry since they don’t lay eggs. Discarded like trash, these baby birds—millions of them a year in India alone—are dumped into massive grinders while fully conscious, or sometimes simply thrown live into trash bags to suffocate, on the first day of their lives. The company is now working to make a technology commercially and scientifically viable that would determine the sex of embryos in eggs long before they get out of the egg, so that they don’t hatch and create a terrible moral problem. Success in this effort would eliminate a vast amount of suffering—chicks endure stressful handling even prior to being killed in hatcheries—of billions of animals annually. Unilever's statement also highlights its exploration of plant-based ingredients to replace eggs in some of its products.

Media Contact: Navamita Mukherjee, 9985472760, nmukherjee@hsi.org

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