Ken Klippen Testifies Before House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources

Ken Klippen Testifies Before House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources

Rhode Island's House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources held a meeting on Thursday, March 3rd at the Capitol in Providence to discuss H. 7324 a bill mandating cages be increased to 213 square inches per chicken. Ken Klippen, NAEF, joined the last remaining egg farmer in the state housing his chickens in cages. Both testified along with Farm Bureau while HSUS and other animal rights advocates testified for the bill's passage.

The Committee Chairman and each committee member received a copy of this email below.

Dear Mr. Chairman,

Thank you for the privilege on Thursday, March 3rd of testifying on H. 7324 relating to animal care and the size of cages for housing egg-producing chickens. As I related in my testimony and contained below, the good intentions of this bill are misplaced relative to chickens.

A Vote for Rhode Island H. 7324 is a Vote Against Food Safety

If enacted, H. 7324, although having good intentions, will cause more harm than good. Every egg farmer knows that eggs laid on the same ground where manure is located increases the likelihood of contamination. That is why supporting H. 7324 is voting against food safety.

The Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply, a group of scientists investigating the different production systems for eggs, finished their two-year study of the available research including food safety. The conclusions from their analysis of the research is that eggs produced in caged environments had less fecal contamination compared to cage-free eggs. This is logical since cages allow for the eggs to be removed from the environment of the hen compared to cage-free where the eggs come into contact with manure. Any reasoning person would conclude that keeping eggs clean and away from manure is better from a food safety perspective. Caged eggs allow for cleaner eggs.

The scientific articles that support this claim are shown below.

1) The Journal Poultry Science in 2011 [90, pp. 1586-1593] published "Comparison of shell bacteria from unwashed and washed table eggs harvested from caged laying hens and cage-free floor-housed laying hens." This study found that the numbers of bacteria on eggs was lower in housing systems that separated hens from manure and shavings.

2) The Journal Food Control published a study June 17, 2014 entitled "Microbiological Contamination of Shell Eggs Produced in Conventional and Free-Range Housing Systems" The conclusions state "Battery caged hens are standing on wire slats that allow feces to fall to a manure collection system beneath the hens. Conversely, free-range hens laid their eggs in nest boxes on shavings and the eggs remained in contact with hens, shavings and fecal material until they are collected. The longer contact time with free-range hens, shavings and feces would explain the higher enterobacteriaceae counts (pathogenic bacteria) on free-range eggs as compared to battery caged eggs."

Some have claimed that caged layers increases Salmonella. This is not true. It's not even logical when considering the federal agency responsible for food safety has issued regulations to protect the consumer. The Food & Drug Administration has issued the regulation entitled Prevention of Salmonella Enteritidis in Shell Eggs During Production, Storage, and Transportation (21 CFR part 118) on July 9, 2009 requiring shell egg farmers to implement measures to prevent SE from contaminating eggs on the farm. If caged environments increased Salmonella, it's inconceivable that FDA would issue regulations governing the production of eggs in caged environments.

Cage-free egg production does not improve the welfare of the chicken

Every egg farmer knows that chickens establish a pecking order. The more chickens together, the more stress on those chickens lower on the pecking order. That explains why deaths among chickens is twice the number of those kept in cages. That is why egg farmers opted to minimize the number of chickens in cages to prevent these deaths. Certainly death is a welfare consideration.

Please vote "No" on H. 7324 for the consumers in Rhode Island and for the chickens.


Ken Klippen, President

National Association of Egg Farmers (offices in Philadelphia and Washington, DC).

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