New Target In 'Battery-Cage' Chicken Crusade
By Dan Noyes, ABC 7 News
Feb. 1, 2006 - We have a follow-up now to an ABC7 I-Team investigation
into the eggs you buy. It's been almost three months since we first
showed you undercover pictures of battery cages -- a common farming
technique used to confine hens. Now there's new fallout from our
There was action in both the courts and in the grocery stores on
Wednesday. The Humane Society filed a lawsuit in San Francisco Superior
Court and Trader Joe's has pulled its store-brand battery cage eggs off
the shelves. We also have new undercover pictures from Northern
California egg farms.
Our tape from the group "East Bay Animal Advocates" shows how 95 percent
of all eggs in this country are produced -- in battery cages. As many as
10 hens are crammed into a single cage. They can't walk or even spread
their wings. Their beaks have to be clipped so they won't cannibalize
each other. The lack of activity sometimes leads to paralysis or to
bones so brittle, they break.
Activist: "Just so many animals smashed into a small location that
This activist snuck into a supplier for Trader Joe's in the Central
Valley town of Hilmar and took these pictures of battery cages.
Activist: "Certainly if most people knew the animal cruelty and
suffering that went into battery egg production, they would not support
The Humane Society of the United States had been pressuring Trader Joe's
for months to stop selling eggs from battery cages. Just four days after
the I-Team first broadcast these pictures in November 2005, the company
gave in. Beginning today (Wednesday), Trader Joe's will sell only
cage-free eggs under its brand name, and the company sells more than
100-million of its private label eggs a year.
Wayne Pacelle, Humane Society of the United States CEO: "And I think the
logic is there. Most Americans don't want to see animals reared for
food, whether it's for eggs or for meat, treated in an entirely
Wayne Pacelle says Whole Foods, Wild Oats Natural Marketplace, and
cafeterias at 75 colleges and universities have switched to cage-free
eggs because of the Humane Society campaign. Their next target? Ben &
Wayne Pacelle: "We're in discussions with them. They've told us it looks
very promising. We're hoping that's going to be the next marker in our
move to eliminate battery cage hen production in this country."
Ben & Jerry's already uses cage-free eggs in their ice cream sold in
Europe, but they use battery cage eggs in this country. No comment from
the company headquarters in Vermont tonight, but their latest "Social
and Environmental Assessment" says, "We've not yet found an
economically manageable way to use free-range eggs for our U.S.
On the other front today, Humane Society lawyers filed a lawsuit in San
Francisco Superior Court. It says the State Board of Equalization and
Controller Steve Westly "have wasted and illegally used public funds"
by giving tax breaks to farmers for the purchase of battery cages.
Jon Lovvorn, Humane Society of the United States Lawyer: "The cruelty
code specifically requires anyone confining an animal to give it an
adequate exercise area. We don't think battery cages provide that. So,
the BOE expenditure of funds to subsidize those cages violates state
law and that's the basis for our lawsuit."
Officials at the Board of Equalization wouldn't comment on the lawsuit
and Steve Westly's office says the controller "just cuts the checks and
follows the law."
By the way, Trader Joe's still sells battery cage eggs from other
companies. They're cheaper than cage free and some people care more
about the price than the issue.
EBAA Egg Investigation Online: http://www.cal-eggs.com