May 4, 2006 - Consumers Want Eggs from Happy Hens
On International Respect for Chickens Day, report finds confused consumers and limited availability of eggs from cage-free hens
(Vancouver) A report released today by the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) reveals that most consumers don’t want to support keeping egg-laying hens in (battery) cages, but the availability of eggs from more humane systems is inadequate in some stores.
To view the report, click here.
“98 percent of table eggs in Canada come from hens kept in wire battery cages,” says Bruce Passmore, VHS’s Farm Animal Welfare Project Coordinator. “Hens are tightly crammed together in filthy cages where they can barely move, let alone flap their wings or perform any other natural behaviour. It’s unconscionable when you consider there are viable alternatives.”
In the report, which examined retail availability of cage-free eggs, Capers Community Markets came out on top selling 100 percent cage-free eggs, while Safeway, one of the most ubiquitous retailers in the city, placed last among local grocers with less than 10 percent. The report also concludes that labelling is confusing and misleading, with terms like ‘vegetarian feed’ and ‘omega-3’ leading consumers to believe the hens are treated with more care than is the case.
Certified organic eggs are guaranteed to have the highest welfare standards of any commercially available egg and to be cage-free. They are the only eggs audited for animal welfare by an independent third-party.
“On International Respect for Chickens Day we want people to understand that the stereotypes about chickens are unfair and inaccurate,” continued Passmore. “ Chickens are intelligent and lead complex social lives. There is clear scientific evidence that they suffer severe deprivation in cages. It doesn’t have to be this way – there are alternatives.”
The Vancouver Humane Society is pressuring Loblaw Canada, which owns the Real Canadian Superstore, Super Valu and Extra Foods, to label all eggs from caged hens so consumers can make an educated choice. The VHS, along with the Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals (CCFA), released undercover video footage late last year which reveals appalling conditions on a conventional egg farm.
Photos and video footage are available by request.