Conditions Uncovered by FDA Inspections at Egg Factories Similar to Those Found by HSUS at Iowa Egg Operations Earlier This Year

The Humane Society of the United States reacted to the Food and Drug Administration’s release of inspection reports detailing unsanitary  and inhumane conditions at Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms, two companies responsible for the largest egg recall in U.S. history.

“The FDA’s inspection reports detail shockingly unhygienic and inhumane conditions that are pervasive throughout the egg industry, and which The Humane Society of the United States has documented repeatedly, including at major Iowa egg factories earlier this year,” stated Michael Greger, MD, director of public health and animal agriculture for The HSUS. “The egg industry must end these cruel practices and reduce this unacceptable food safety threat by switching to cage-free systems.”

Earlier this year, multiple HSUS undercover investigations  at four Iowa egg factory farms revealed rampant animal abuse and food safety concerns, such as live birds forced to live on top of mummified bird carcasses rotting in cages. These conditions were similar to those that the FDA found at Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms.

Every one of the last ten studies comparing cage to cage-free systems found higher Salmonella rates in cage systems, including a 2010 study that found 20 times greater odds of Salmonella infection in caged flocks.

Approximately 142,000 Americans suffering Salmonella infections from eggs every year is an egg-borne epidemic.

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  • Simply by switching to cage-free housing systems, the egg industry may be able to halve the risk of Salmonella for the American public, according to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
  • About 95 percent of egg-laying hens in the United States are confined in cages so small, the animals can’t even spread their wings.
  • Cage-free hens generally have two to three times more space per bird than caged hens. Cage-free hens may not be able to go outside and, like caged hens, may have parts of their beaks cut off, but they can walk, spread their wings and lay their eggs in nests—all behaviors permanently denied to hens crammed into battery cages.
  • Michigan and California have passed laws to phase out the use of cages to confine hens. California also passed a law requiring that all whole eggs sold statewide be cage-free by 2015. In Ohio, agriculture leaders agreed to a moratorium on the construction of new battery cage egg facilities.

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