Ground-Breaking News: Federal Law Banning Barren Battery Cages & Mandating Production-Method Labels on Egg Cartons to be Introduced

Written by Erica Meier

Egg CartonsIn an historic agreement reached today by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the United Egg Producers (UEP), these long-time adversaries will work cooperatively to enact the first-ever federal law related to the treatment of chickens. It would also be the first federal law related to the on-farm treatment of animals raised for food.

The proposed federal legislation endorsed by the HSUS and UEP would:

  • Ban barren battery cages—small, cramped cages that nearly immobilize more than 250 million birds today—and essentially phase in double the amount of space each laying hen is presently given.
  • Require environmental enrichments for birds such as perches, nesting boxes, and scratching areas for all hens.
  • Prohibit forced molting through starvation, an inhumane practice that involves withholding all food from birds for up to two weeks in order to manipulate the laying cycle. Tens of millions of hens in the country still endure this cruelty today.
  • Prohibit ammonia levels in henhouses from going above 25 parts per million.
  • Prohibit the sale of eggs and egg products in the U.S. that don’t meet these requirements.
  • Mandate that all egg cartons sold in the U.S. clearly identify the method of production; such as “Eggs from Caged Hens.”

While Compassion Over Killing firmly believes that the most effective step each of us can take to protect egg-laying hens is to simply leave eggs off our plates, this landmark legislation is a major step forward in reducing the unimaginable suffering forced upon more than 250 million birds who, each year, are crammed inside tiny wire cages so small, they can’t even spread their wings.

Egg CartonsIn addition to addressing the treatment of egg-laying hens, this federal law will also require factory farmers to fully disclose on cartons how eggs are produced. Such mandatory labeling—including the clear identification of “Eggs from Caged Hens”—has already been implemented in the European Union and Australia, and COK has been urging the Food and Drug Administration to pass a Truth in Egg-Labeling requirement in the U.S. Shortly after COK announced our campaign victory ending the United Egg Producers’ use of the misleading “Animal Care Certified” logo, we filed a federal rule-making petition with the FDA to address the rampant use of false or exaggerated claims throughout the egg industry.

To learn more about the egg industry—and to discover delicious egg-free recipes and products—visit COK’s website, EggIndustry.com.