Kraft Foods Urged to Re-Consider Cage-Free Policy
To the Board of Directors at Kraft Foods
On December 12, 2017 The National Association of Egg Farmers, representing egg farmers nationwide, respectfully urged Kraft Foods to reconsider its policy on sourcing eggs only from cage-free egg production flocks. There are four reasons why farmers have evolved to producing eggs with chickens in cages.
1.Food Safety and Security
Food safety is paramount and refutes claims that cage-free improves egg safety. Penn State researchers have found that eggs from small flocks of chickens are more likely to be contaminated with Salmonella enteritidis as eggs sold in grocery stores, which typically come from larger flocks. The analysis of the Salmonella enteritidis present in the eggs from small flocks shows they are the same types commonly reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from human foodborne outbreaks.
- 2.Human Health and Welfare
A study conducted by the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply reported that the cage-free system had dust levels 8-10 times higher than other systems. In addition, the cage-free system resulted in high worker exposure to endotoxin dust particles and reduced lung function by the end of a shift.
- 3.Sustainable Egg Production Systems
The rush by retailers and food manufacturers to source their egg needs from cage-free facilities must consider these facts on sustainability.The cost to implement new barns for cage-free chickens needed is calculated at $45 per chicken. For 200 million chickens producing for retailers demanding cage-free systems, that’s a capital investment of $9 billion. Cage-free egg production costs are determined to be 36% higher than conventional.
- 4.Animal Welfare and Husbandry
The Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply reported at International Poultry Production and Processing Exposition in Atlanta, GA on January 26, 2016:
Total accumulated mortality was highest in the cage-free system (11.5 percent), due to aggressive pecking and cannibalism. It was 4.7 percent in conventional cages. This results from the hens establishing a pecking order among the chickens in a flock. Conventional cages reduces the size of this population and thus reduces the stress caused from pecking.
Keel bone breakage was highest in the cage-free system. Increased keel bone breakage was confirmed with New Research at the University of California-Davis. This new research study shows the majority of breast bone damage originates from collisions with perches in cage-free environments. Dr. Maja Makagon, assistant professor of applied animal behavior at University of California, Davis’ Department of Animal Science, noted the increased bone breakage in cage-free systems.