December 22, 2014

Egg Products Inspection Act Introduced to Congress

FPBeggsSenator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2013, a bill that would establish a national standard for humane treatment of egg-laying hens and the labeling of eggs. Cosponsors include Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), and in the House, Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR).

Senator Feinstein said, “this bill is the product of an agreement between the Humane Society of the United States and the United Egg Producers, which represent 88 percent of the nation’s egg industry. It addresses a patchwork of divergent state laws by establishing a national standard for the humane treatment of egg-laying hens.”

In 2010, the Humane Society took undercover videos of the Cal-Maine egg factory in Waelder, Texas and found rampant abuse and food safety issues. Eggs were covered in blood and feces, birds had bloody feet and broken legs from cage wires, and birds were trapped in cage wires, unable to reach food or water. Cal-Maine recalled 250,000 eggs for Salmonella contamination that year. In addition, studies have found higher Salmonella rates in eggs raised in cage systems. One study found that people eating eggs from caged hens have twice the chance of being sickened by Salmonella bacteria.

The bill would outlaw the practice of starving chickens to increase egg production, require that conventional battery cages are replaced with housing systems that almost doubles the space for each hen, and require that all egg laying hens would be provided with nesting boxes and scratching areas. In addition, labeling on all egg cartons would inform consumers of the method used to produce the hens. The labels would range from “eggs from caged hens” to “eggs from hens in enriched cages”, “eggs from cage-free hens” and “eggs from free-range hens.” Transporting and selling eggs that do not meet these requirements would be outlawed.

Consumers can sign a Humane Society petition supporting this amendment. The amendment is supported by the Humane Society, American Veterinary Medical Association, ASPCA, Consumer Federation of America, and the National Consumers League, among others.

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