Apr11

New Animal Welfare Program Available to Egg Farmers

A new animal welfare program has been developed for egg farmers that provides the scientific references from 42 research articles substantiating the provisions in the guidelines.  These guidelines have been submitted to the Food Marketing Institute and the National Grocers Association as another option for egg farmers to incorporate into their production practices in response to the animal welfare concerns of consumers requesting science-based standards of production.

The National Association of Egg Farmers is offering this voluntary program free-of-charge to its members.

Today's modern, conventional farming methods provides animals in the care of farmers, protection from inclement weather, predators, and in the case of caged chickens, a year-around supply of optimal temperatures.

The goal of these science-based production practices is to qualify with published research the health and welfare of livestock and to demonstrate the farmer's abiding by the moral obligatoion to provide a healthy environment for the chickens.

Mar28

National Association of Egg Farmers Sends Support for WSJ Op-Ed

We fully support the Op-Ed by Will Coggin in the March 26th edition of the Wall Street Journal entitled “California Flies the Constitutional Coop.” Mr. Coggin’s Op-Ed correctly noted that California is assuming the role of determining the commerce of eggs which is a violation of the U.S. Constitution Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 granting the U.S. Congress the power to regulate commerce between the States.  California Title 3 Section 1350 of the CA Code of Regulations requires out-of-state egg farmers selling eggs in California to implement CA’s Salmonella  reduction which goes beyond the federal guidelines under FDA’s food safety standards for eggs (Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 118 [21 CFR Part 118], “Production, Storage, and Transportation of Shell Eggs).  This action to regulate commerce is why 5 other states have joined the initiative behind Missouri’s Attorney General Chris Koster’s lawsuit against the California Attorney General along with members of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.  Those states are Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Alabama. 

 

California has also claimed in other newspapers that food safety, quality, and welfare were reasons for supporting this regulation.  Consider the following evidence in rebuttal.

 

As it relates to food safety, Dr. R.K. Gast at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Southeast Regional Laboratory in Athens, GA along with 3 other scientists recently published their findings that there is no significant differences (P > 0.05) in the frequency of egg contamination  by Salmonella in chickens housed in conventional cages as compared to enriched cages, the ones promoted by California in their regulation. (Poultry Science 2014 Mar;93(3):728-33. doi: 10.3382/ps.2013-03641).

 

California claimed better quality eggs.  However, the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply is reporting on their website that their research showed that egg quality was not impacted by hen housing systems (http://www2.sustainableeggcoalition.org/). 

 

California claimed better welfare with their enriched cages as compared to conventional cages.  This too has been shown to be faulty. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in 2010 released a report on the welfare implications of various kinds of housing. (www.avma.org/issues/animal_welfare/cage_noncage_systems.asp) The report concluded consumers need to balance the hen’s freedom against exposure to potential hazards such as disease vectors and the cannibalism caused by pecking. Certainly cannibalism and pecking are welfare issues, and in conventional cages where the number of chickens is minimized, these concerns are also reduced compared to other systems.

 

Dr. Kenneth Anderson, NC State University, presented his research findings to delegates at the 2010 Midwest Poultry Federation Convention March 16-18, 2010 where he noted that chickens reared in conventional cages (310 sq. cm/bird) had significantly greater numbers of Grade A eggs, significantly greater numbers of total eggs produced, and significantly better feed conversion rates (meaning a lower carbon footprint), and a better immune response (meaning better able to resist disease).  Certainly these are indicators of a healthier chicken and thus better welfare.

 

We appreciate that the readers of the Wall Street Journal can understand that California’s egg regulations are, in addition to being unconstitutional, also not science-based, but instead just more political science.

Mar24

California Lawsuit Supported by National Association of Egg Farmers

  1. 1.California Rep Reeling From Response Over Egg Regulations

 

Dr. Ken Takeshita, DVM and District Supervisor for the California Department of Food and Agriculture was not altogether surprised when challenged during his presentation at the CEAM breakfast meeting on Wednesday at the Midwest Poultry Federation Convention in St. Paul, MN.  Dr. Takeshita was explaining the new egg food safety regulations for all eggs sold in California, when he was challenged by Ken Klippen as to the science behind the cage density requirements (i.e. one hen at 322 sq. in. per hen up to 116 sq. in. per hen for cages holding 9 hens).  Klippen then referenced the research study (See below) by Dr. R. Gast with the USDA Southeast Regional Labs in Athens, GA.  Dr. Takeshita responded that conflicting sciences are always available.  Klippen then challenged Title 3 Section 1350 of the CA Code of Regulations requiring out-of-state egg producers or egg handlers selling eggs in California must implement CA’s SE reduction measures saying this is a violation of the U.S. Constitution Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 granting the U.S. Congress the power to regulate commerce between the States.  In effect California was assuming the role of regulating the flow of eggs into the state.  Klippen stated this was the initiative behind Missouri’s Attorney General Chris Koster’s lawsuit against the California Attorney General along with members of the California Department of Food and Agriculture also named in the amended filing.  Other states joining in the lawsuit include Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Alabama.  Klippen also asked the CEAM group to support the efforts to encourage the MN Attorney General Lori Swanson to join in support of the Missouri lawsuit since 20% of the eggs from the state are going to California (as reported by the CA Department of Food and Agriculture for Jun 2012-Jan2014 at 2.2 million cases shipped from 9.8 million hens in the state).

 

  1. 2.No Difference in Contamination of Eggs by SE by Hens Housed in Conventional or Enriched Cages

 

Contamination of eggs by Salmonella Enteritidis in experimentally infected laying hens housed in conventional or enriched cages.

Gast RK1Guraya RJones DRAnderson KE

Poultry Science 2014 Mar;93(3):728-33. doi: 10.3382/ps.2013-03641.

 

Abstract

Both epidemiologic analyses and active disease surveillance confirm an ongoing strong association between human salmonellosis and the prevalence of Salmonella enterica subspecies enterica serovar Enteritidis in commercial egg flocks. The majority of human illnesses caused by this pathogen are attributed to the consumption of contaminated eggs. Animal welfare concerns have increasingly influenced commercial poultry production practices in recent years, but the food safety implications of different housing systems for egg-laying hens are not definitively understood. The present study assessed the effects of 2 different housing systems (conventional cages and colony cages enriched with perching and nesting areas) on the frequency of Salmonella Enteritidis contamination inside eggs laid by experimentally infected laying hens. In each of 2 trials, groups of laying hens housed in each cage system were orally inoculated with doses of 1.0 × 10(8) cfu of Salmonella Enteritidis. All eggs laid between 5 and 25 d postinoculation were collected and cultured to detect internal contamination with Salmonella Enteritidis. For both trials combined, Salmonella Enteritidis was recovered from 3.97% of eggs laid by hens in conventional cages and 3.58% of eggs laid by hens in enriched cages. No significant differences (P > 0.05) in the frequency of egg contamination were observed between the 2 housing systems.

 

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