Commentary: Egg cartons lie about animal welfare claims

If you are one of the people who buys cage-free eggs because you care about the welfare of the chickens, then a new study might set you off.

According to reports, a study in the Temple Journal of Science, Technology & Environmental Law says that compassionate egg consumers are being lied to.

The study’s author Sheila Rodriguez, a clinical associate professor at the Rutgers School of Law–Camden, says that food consumers have a right to know how farm animals are raised and, because of that, egg producers’ claims about animal welfare should be regulated by the federal government. She feels this ways because for the most part we are being lied to about the sanctity of our eggs.


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


She also says 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,”


To most of you this news might not even register on your radar, but for me, this is troubling news.


You see, I watched a movie called Food Inc. It’s basically a documentary about how big government and big business have perverted the food system. The way that animals are treated at these commercial farms is sick.


I was disturbed by the film and I decided that I would try and take economic steps in my own life that would support businesses that have a more human system for their animals. I felt the worst for the chickens for some reason, so I decided that I would only buy cage-free eggs at the store.


And now it comes out that the egg industry is full of liars too. Now we might not be able to trust that the eggs in stores are really what we are being told they are.


If you are upset about this then there are some solutions. First of all, if you consume eggs you might not want to buy them at the fancy stores in your metropolitan city anymore.


High tech industry is not always the solution to a problem. If you need eggs find a place near you that has access to good old fashioned farms that have chickens and ducks in the yard. Buy farm fresh eggs from your local farmers because they still take pride in using more holistic and humane farming methods.


Some of them will even let you take a look around the facility where the magic happens.


There’s no way to truly tell if the products you buy are organic or raised cage free. The only way to really know what’s in your food is to produce it yourself. Most of us aren’t in a position to do that, but we can probably find local farms to get our meat and eggs from.     


People aren’t going to stop eating animals anytime soon, (sorry PETA, vegans) so the least we can do is treat them humanely. If you care about where your eggs came from then you should think about supporting local farmers who treat their chickens humanely.


Don’t rely on the products at stores to put honesty on their labels.