FDA, Require Labeling Standards for Cage-Free Eggs

  • by: Susan V
  • recipient: US Food and Drug Administration

McDonald’s has recently pledged to use only cage free eggs in its Mc-breakfasts by 2026. That decision “unleashed a tidal wave” of commitments says a report by Mother Jones. But do we know what cage-free really means?

California’s Proposition 2 was what got the ball rolling on at least better than battery-caging these birds, and that law says hens have to be more than just cage-free, they must have enough space between them and any enclosure sides to be able to spread their wings fully without touching each other.

But MJ says the CA rule is not likely what cage-free looks like in most other states, and that means it’s also nothing like the small family farmyards often pictured on egg cartons. Most large egg producers are :building multitiered aviaries—stacked arrangements in which thousands, if not tens of thousands of birds roam throughout the barn, hopping from level to level. 'There are birds by your feet, your knees, your shoulders—cities of birds,'"Humane Socieity’s Paul Shapiro told MJ.

Actually says HS, larger cages are better than arrangements like those at these hen cities, so the cage-free label doesn’t necessarily mean the chickens are raised humanely.

The public needs labeling that lets them know exactly how the hens producing the eggs are raised. Sign this petition to ask the FDA to mandate standard labeling for cage-free eggs and standards that conform more to CA’s rule for all states.

To the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:

Based on the information provided by Mother Jones and the Humane Society, its very unclear exactly what cage-free means. It would be more appropriate if consumers had the information they needed to decide which egg producers, food stores and restaurants they wish to support.

If cage-free doesn’t necessarily mean that hens will have space to stretch and be free from having their beaks cut off because of being raised in too crowded conditions, cage-free is really not what many consumers are looking for.

According to Mother Jones, the Humane Society recommends looking past the current labels that imply hens are naturally-raised and instead look for labeling such as: “Pasture-raised, certified organic, or free-range” if consumers prefer “eggs produced by a happier, healthier hen…”

But consumers shouldn’t have to spend time deciphering labels. The labels and their meanings should be clear and standardized, particularly a label like “cage-free” that can currently mean so many things, including cruelty.

I, the undersigned, therefore request that the FDA set standards for egg carton labels and require that eggs labeled cage-free conform at least to CA rule requiring that hens have space to move naturally, including the ability to spread their wings. These animals really deserve much better, but this is the least that should be required.

Thanks for you time.

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