Egg Industry Makes Deal with FTC to End Use of "Animal Care Certified" Logo
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has ordered the country's egg industry to cease using the "Animal Care Certified" logo by March 31, 2006. The ruling is the result of a legal battle by activist group Compassion Over Killing (COK), which originally filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau in 2003. More than 90% of egg farmers in the US are said to raise hens according to guidelines from United Egg Producers, the trade association that used to oversee "Animal Care" logo certification. However, COK and other animal activists claim the label is misleading because the guidelines permit severe overcrowding and mutilation of the birds. United Egg Producers has evidently voluntarily agreed to change its logo to read "United Egg Producers Certified" instead of "Animal Care Certified" to avoid potential consumer backlash over the issue. The program itself and conditions for egg-producing hens will not change, however, although COK and other groups continue to lobby for an outright ban on the use of "battery" cages for hens.
1. "Federal Trade Commission Announces End to Misleading Egg Logo," COK Press Release, 10/3/05
2. "Egg Producers Group Agrees to Alter Logo, Settling
Complaint," Des Moines Register, 10/4/05
3. "Egg Label Changed After Md. Group Complains,"
Washington Post, 10/4/05
2. Investigations and Videos Detail Conditions on U.S. and Canadian Egg Farms
Pennsylvania activist group Hugs for Puppies investigated
three of five egg production facilities owned by Kreider
Farms. The group's extensive photo and video gallery,
available online, shows graphic images of hens confined
to small cages stacked three high in what seems severe
overcrowding. The photos also depict dead and dying
birds, as well as "disposal" bins where sick or injured
birds have been discarded. Hugs for Puppies has also
filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau
for Kreider Farm's use of the phrases "first rate
animal husbandry care" and "happy chickens lay lots
of top quality eggs" on its website. The group alleges
that evidence collected during its investigation clearly
shows these claims to be false.
"Animal Rights Group Sneaks onto Chicken Farms, Makes Video," WGAL, 10/5/05
(Includes photos and video)
"Kreider Cruelty," Hugs for Puppies, September 2005
(Includes photos and video)
L.E.L. INVESTIGATION: A similar investigation
of LEL Farms, an egg production facility in Ontario,
Canada, was recently conducted by a University of
Guelph agriculture student. Results from the investigation,
which the student conducted after being denied a tour
by the farm's owner, were published in a student newspaper
and included "disturbing photographs." The student
claims to have found dead birds both in and out of
cages, as well as decaying hen parts and living birds
in the facility's manure pit. The farm's owner calls
the student article "garbage," while an industry animal
welfare expert suggests that the claims are "exaggerated."
"Activist Calls Ontario Egg Barn 'Horrific'," National Post, 10/10/05
MOARK: In Missouri, a permit for
expansion submitted by Moark is in question since
the company has come under fire for animal cruelty
charges related to disposing of living hens who were
not euthanized according to guidelines. (Also
see FAW 5-27). A citizen videotaped Moark subcontractors
disposing of clearly living hens in a dead pile rather
than gassing them or quickly performing a "cervical
dislocation," as called for by regulations. Moark
has faced opposition to building new facilities in
Kansas and Oklahoma, and current plans to expand in
Missouri may be put on hold by the Department of Natural
Resources. The department is awaiting results of the
animal cruelty charge and taking into account concerns
from citizens before deciding whether or not to allow
Moark to add space for an estimated 3.5 million more
"Animal Abuse Charges Cloud Egg Factory's Expansion Plans," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 10/7/05
Research Shows Inefficiency of U.S. Dairy Industry, High Incidence of Mastitis
Recent scientific research on dairy
farming methods, dairy cow hygiene, and amino acid
requirements in food provided to cows may have animal
welfare implications. The first story below from the
US Agriculture Research Service describes one "agro-ecologist"
who has spent 15 years studying dairy farms in West
Africa. Unlike in the US, where cows used for milk
production are confined and their waste transported
elsewhere, West African farmers will corral animals
outside so their waste is directly applied as fertilizer
to crops. The ARS article notes that the approach
used in Africa is better for the environment and the
animals. Additionally, such spreading of manure results
in 35-50% greater uptake in nitrogen compared to the
spreading of waste collected from animals in confinement.
Dairy cows are frequently subject to diseases such
as mastitis and protein imbalances due to the complex,
high growth diets they are fed. At a press briefing
focused on promoting proper cow hygiene, UK dairy
industry officials said, "Published research shows
that on average dairy producers still experience 35-40
cases of clinical mastitis in every 100 cows." Although
positioned as an economic risk for farmers, such a
high incidence of clinical mastitis is also clearly
an animalwelfare problem. Finally, some readers may
be interested in the lengths to which farmers go to
control the diets of dairy cows to support high rates
of pregnancy and growth. For a lengthy discussion
of amino acid requirements for dairy cows presented
as "interpretive summaries" of recent research, see
the third link below.
1. "A New Approach to Dairy Farming That's
'Out of Africa,'" ARS, 9/28/05
2. "Tighter Dairy Hygiene Could Save 20 a Cow," Farmers Weekly, 10/3/05
3. "Interpretive Summaries" of Research on Amino
Acid Requirements of Dairy Cows," American Dairy Science
U.S. Coalition Seeks Enforcement of "28-Hour
Law" for Transport of Animals
A coalition of animal protection groups is petitioning the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to enforce a law passed in 1873 that limits farmed animal transport times to a continuous 28 hours. The informally titled "Twenty-Eight Hour Law" requires that animals transported for longer than this amount of time be allowed at least 5 hours of rest, including being offloaded and given food and water. The coalition, which includes The Humane Society of the US, Farm Sanctuary, Compassion Over Killing, and Animal Angels, says that the USDA only enforces the law on trains, but that 95% of farmed animal transport currently occurs using trucks.
The language of the original law pertains to preventing cruelty to animals transported by "railroad or other means," the intent presumably including trucks. Animals transported for long durations face potential injury and illness, extreme hot and cold temperatures, denial of food and water, and trips of up to 48 hours, according to the coalition press release. The groups also say that transporting animals for long periods poses a health risk to humans given the greater potential for outbreaks of disease. The allegations are based in part on an investigation by Compassion Over Killing that included following a truckload of more than 200 pigs on a 35-hour trip from Missouri to California.
1. "Animal Rights Groups Wants 28-Hour Trucking Rule Enforced," Cattle Network, 10/5/05
2. "Animal Protection Organizations Petition USDA to Limit Long-Distance Trucking of Animals," Farm Sanctuary, 10/4/05
3. "Loophole on Wheels: Trucks and the 28-Hour Law," The Humane Society of the US, 9/28/05
New Health Risk from Meat and Milk Consumption as Clones Enter Food Supply
A study appearing in the US Proceedings
of the National Academy of Science says that humans
who consume "red meat" and cows' milk absorb a molecule
that may cause tissue inflammation leading to "various
diseases." The study, carried out by scientists from
the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), discovered
that human tissue absorbs the molecular sugar "Neu5Gc"
in laboratory tests. Despite occurring naturally in
the flesh of lambs, pigs, and cows, Neu5Gc does not
naturally exist in humans; some scientists believe
it may be a source of health problems for people.
The presence of Neu5Gc has been noted previously in
cancer cells found in humans, and was found in both
cancerous and non-cancerous cells in the current study.
The greatest concentrations of Neu5Gc are found in
the flesh of cows, pigs, and lambs, but also in cheese
and milk produced from these animals.
Despite the implication that we still have much to learn about the health effects of eating animals, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reportedly poised to approve the sale of meat and milk from cloned animals. The FDA has considered the issue for three years as the industry largely followed a voluntary ban on the slaughter of cloned animals for human consumption. However, according to at least one report, "it has recently become clear that a few offspring of cloned pigs and cows are already trickling into the food supply." Analysts predict that if the FDA formally allows the use of clones, farmers will immediately begin producing hundreds of thousands of such animals for human consumption. However, some consumer groups and others argue that most people are unwilling to purchase animal products from clones, and they worry that marketing of such products might mislead consumers.
1. "Non-Human Molecule Absorbed by Eating Red Meat," UCSD Researchers, 9/29/05
2. "Clone-Generated Milk, Meat May Be Approved," MeatPoultry.com,
6. Studies Describe European "Exotic Meat" and U.S. "Beef" Consumption Trends
EXOTIC MEATS: The UK-based just-food.com reports that so-called "exotic meats" are a growing trend in England and throughout Europe, according to market research firm Mintel Group. The market for these products in the UK grew by 17% from 1999 to 2004, however, which suggest somewhat limited growth. The majority of exotic meat products include "game meats" such as venison, which some consumers perceive as more healthy. However, some UK companies are also experiencing growth in the sales of such exotic animals as crocodiles, kangaroos, ostriches, and wild boars. The UK animal advocacy group Viva! is currently campaigning to end the consumption of exotic meats in the country.
"Exotic Meats Booming as Thrill-Seekers Defy Opposition," Just-food.com, 10/3/05
"BEEF" CONSUMPTION: An in-depth study of US beef consumption by the US Economic Research Service (ERS) shows that consumption is highest in the Midwestern US and among rural populations. The study also indicates higher levels of beef consumption among lower-income populations, which in the US overlaps with ethnic groups including African Americans, Hispanics, and Latinos. Overall, "beef" is the second most consumed type of animal flesh in the US (measured in pounds), after chicken, with the average adult consuming 67 pounds of cow flesh per year.
"Factors Affecting US Beef Consumption," USDA / ERS, Oct-05
Farmed Animal Statistics: U.S. Food Consumption Data
According to the US Department of Agriculture's
Economic Research Service (ERS), data from the first
quarter of 2005 show decreased consumption for most
animal products compared to the same period in 2004.
The only exceptions are cheese and "processed meats;"
consumption of these two products increased by 2%
and 3%, respectively, over the first quarter of 2004.
However, consumption of most other animal products
declined, including most notably poultry, down by
more than 23%. Consumption of "pork" was down by 7%,
and there were also slight declines in the consumption
of fish, "beef," milk, and eggs. Note, however, that
the analysis only includes items purchased in retail
food stores for consumption at home. ERS suggests
that those declines may be due to the continued fading
of the recent popularity of low-carbohydrate diets.
Longer-term trend shows a different picture. ERS provides
historical per capita consumption data for a wide
range of animal-based food products, from which we
can calculate growth or decline rates. The table below
shows a comparison of per capita consumption of these
products in 1994 and 2003, including a total percentage
change over the 10-year period. Despite a large 40%
decline in "veal" consumption, overall "red meat"
consumption remained constant. The most growth has
been in chicken consumption, which increased by 18%
over the 10-year period, and cheese consumption, which
increased by 15%. Consumption of fish, shellfish,
and eggs has been modest but consistent over the same
|Measured in Pounds
|- Cheese (exc. cottage)
|- Beverage milks
|- Ice cream
|- Lamb and Mutton
|Fish and Shellfish
1. "Food Dynamics and USDA's New Dietary Guidelines," USDA / ERS, Sep-05
2. "Table 39 - Per Capita Consumption of Major Food Commodities," USDA / ERS, 1994-2003
3. "Briefing Room: Food Consumption," USDA / ERS, Updated regularly
8. Upcoming Farmed Animal and Related Events
for further details.
"Science and Society Improving Animal Welfare," Welfare Quality Project, European Commission
November 17-18, 2005; Brussels, Belgium
"International Meat Animal Welfare Research Conference," American Meat Institute
February 22, 2006; Overland Park, Kansas
"Meat Industry Animal Handling Conference," American Meat Institute
February 23-24, 2006; Overland Park, Kansas
9. Other Items of Interest
"Sheep Death Research Finds
Low Mortality Rate," ABC Australia, 10/10/05
After resumption of the live sheep trade between Australia
and the Middle East in September, the first ship carrying
more than 120,000 sheep arrived in Jordan to deliver
10,000 animals. Scientists monitored the voyage as
a trial to determine the acceptability of sheep mortality
levels during transit. According to one Australian
professor and monitor, the mortality rate was running
at "about 0.4%" (nearly 500 sheep), which
is considered low.
"Technology that Can Predetermine the Sex
of Cattle and Swine Livestock is Acquired by Microbix,"
A technology developed at the University of Guelph
(Canada) will allow farmers to predetermine the gender
of cows and pigs. It is being billed (by the company
that recently purchased the technology) as the biggest
breakthrough in animal farming since artificial insemination.
The technology may eventually have significant welfare
implications as well, including preventing the unwanted
births of male calves to dairy cows, currently a major
driver of the US veal industry.
"Over Crowding Negatively Affects Small and
Large Groups of Pigs Equally," Farmscape, 10/5/05
Students at the Prairie Swine Research Centre (Canada)
conducted a study showing that overcrowding negatively
impacts pigs in both small and large group settings.
According to one researcher, "In both cases, the uncrowded
groups of pigs outperformed the crowded groups in
terms of the amount of feed consumed, feed efficiency
and rate of gain." There was also more evidence of
leg sores for pigs housed in overcrowded environments.
"Fast Facts on Avian Flu," ABC News / World
Health Organization / National Institutes of Health
/ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, / US
Department of State, 9/29/05
ABC News has published a set of diverse "fast facts" regarding avian influenza, compiled from major US and international health government and agencies.