Today, The Humane Society of the United States and the United Egg Producers announced in a joint statement that they will work together to urge U.S. lawmakers to craft legislation overseeing the living conditions of the 280 million hens involved in U.S. egg production. This would mark the first federal law regulating the treatment of animals on farms.
Among the proposed standards would be living quarters allowing 124-144 square inches of space (most currently receive 67 square inches, and some 50 million reside in 48 square inches) for each chicken, environments that allow birds to express "natural behaviors" in boxes, scratching areas and perches, and a reduction in excessive ammonia levels in hen houses.
Additionally, the statement called for a cessation of practices that extend the laying cycle by prohibiting food and water levels (a practice frowned upon by most of the industry) as well as an extension of label requirements to inform customers if they are buying “eggs from caged hens,” “eggs from hens in enriched cages,” “eggs from cage-free hens,” or “eggs from free-range hens.”
Editor’s note: This week, CNN Health's The Chart is taking a closer look at the most important health stories of 2010. Each day, they'll feature buzzwords and topics that came to the forefront over the past year.
According to an old adage, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But for egg eaters across the United States, breakfast briefly became potentially deadly.
In August, an outbreak of salmonella poisoning spurred a recall of more than 500 million eggs from producers across the country, and was eventually traced back to two sources – Wright County Egg Co. of Galt, Iowa, and Hillandale Farms of New Hampton, Iowa. Inspection reports released by the Food and Drug Administration indicated that neither company adhered to its salmonella prevention plans.
Further FDA investigations revealed conditions termed "stomach-churning" by food safety advocates at The Center for Science in the Public Interest. They included chicken manure in piles up to 8 feet high at Wright County and liquid manure leaking into a chicken house at Hillandale.
The FDA has sent Hillandale Farms of Hampton, Iowa, a releasing letter allowing the company to start shipping its eggs, beginning Monday.
Hillandale Farms was one of two companies that recalled its eggs in August 2010 because of the potential for Salmonella poisoning. According to the FDA, since August, three egg-producing houses owned by Hillandale have been extensively tested and have been found to have no evidence of Salmonella contamination. Four others overseen by the company still are undergoing further testing before they are allowed to ship. Hillandale has also promised to enhance its systems in order to detect Salmonella in the future.
CNN Health has the FULL STORY
See all egg recall information on Eatocracy