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November 18, 2010

Country's Clucking About Cruelty of Cage Confinement, Food Safety Risks

A day after our press conferences in Washington, D.C. and Houston detailing the findings of our undercover exposé of Cal-Maine, the nation’s largest egg supplier, it’s obvious that the press and the public are coming to the subject with an elevated understanding of the connection between extreme confinement of animals and food safety. National outlets like ABC, CNN, and MSNBC, as well as television stations in Houston, like KIAH-TV Houston, Fox News Houston, and CBS Houston, are conveying that the mistreatment of animals at factory farms has real-world implications for consumers, as well as for animals.

Hens caked with feces at Cal-Maine factory farm
The HSUS
Hens caked with feces from birds above at Cal-Maine facility.

I’d like to pay a special thanks to Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League, for joining yesterday’s press conference stressing the vital link between animal welfare and food safety. And, of course, credit is due to our investigator who documented the problems at Cal-Maine during his time there.

We essentially got no substantive response from Cal-Maine. And the Texas Farm Bureau refused even to condemn the cruelty that was so obviously documented on video, instead arguing this was an isolated case rather than a discovery of anything systemic. That is exactly the opposite conclusion they should have reached.

Our point is not that the people at Cal-Maine are particularly cruel or vicious toward animals. The point is that cage confinement of this type is inherently inhumane, and the industry-wide movement toward these systems has been an animal welfare disaster and put consumers at needless risk. Responsible animal welfare cannot be achieved in systems that crowd together so many birds and essentially immobilize these animals. They have behavioral and emotional needs, and those needs cannot be met if they are trapped for their entire lives in small cages.

Take a look at some of the coverage above, and know that our movement to have the nation move away from these extreme confinement systems is gaining ground.

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