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Egg cartons not accurate in reporting animal welfare claims
Date:5/31/2011

CAMDEN If you think that you're using humanely produced eggs for your omelets or deviled eggs, think again. Egg companies recognize that most Americans care about the welfare of farmed animals and many market their eggs with labels claiming the hens were treated well. But a RutgersCamden law professor warns that many of the animal welfare claims on egg cartons aren't all that they're cracked up to be.

Sheila Rodriguez, a clinical associate professor at the Rutgers School of LawCamden, asserts that food consumers have a right to know how farm animals are raised and, for that reason, egg producers' claims about animal welfare should be regulated by the federal government.

In a forthcoming edition of the Temple Journal of Science, Technology & Environmental Law, the RutgersCamden professor argues that egg consumers have a right to know that "[m]ost hens are packed eight or nine hens to a cage . . . [The cages are] so small that [hens] are unable to stretch a wing. The overcrowding causes them to fight, so their beaks are cut off to prevent them from injuring other birds. The fewer than 5% of eggs in the U.S. that are not produced under these conditions are from hens that were not even allowed outside," says Rodriguez.

In her article, "The Morally Informed Consumer: Examining Animal Welfare Claims on Egg Labels," Rodriguez contends that consumers need to understand that "'cage-free' hens are a subset of factory-farmed production. Even small farms that do not raise hens under industrial production standards purchase their birds from factory-farm hatcheries."

Animal welfare claims on egg labels should be regulated to ensure accuracy. The RutgersCamden professor notes that "many of the production method claims made by egg producers cannot be accurately verified. Industry standards are factory farmed standards. Federally-verified claims made under the National Organic Program, though comprehensive, are problematic be
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Contact: Mike Sepanic
msepanic@camden.rutgers.edu
856-225-6026
Rutgers University
Source:Eurekalert

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