Battery-Cage Opinion Piece in Today's Modesto Bee / Write a Letter to the Bee
- Criticisms of caging hens are faulty logic of fringe activists
By RICHARD MATTEIS
The Modesto Bee, May 31, 2006
Online at http://www.modbee.com/opinion/community/story/12254648p-12993241c.html
Submit a letter to the editor at http://www.modbee.com/service/print_letters.html
The recent commentary ("In honor of egg month, let's free hens from cruel cages," May 22, Page B-7) demanding that egg-laying hens be freed from cages could well have been penned by Chicken Little because the writer's concerns are so utterly groundless and divorced from reality.
The criticisms of the state's egg industry from fringe animal activists with self-serving agendas ignore the following facts:
California egg producers care for their birds according to a set of "best practices" and recommendations from veterinary experts. The vast majority of our producers are certified under a comprehensive animal-welfare plan developed by respected animal-care professionals throughout the country.
Over time, these care standards have increased cage space and improved care for laying hens.
Numerous studies have proven that housing hens in cages is humane, effective and essential to ensuring the safest eggs and egg products on the market.
Both the American Veterinary Medical Association and American Association of Avian Pathologists recognize the benefits of confined housing of poultry.
Cages protect birds from the threat of cannibalism, extreme weather conditions and such diseases as exotic Newcastle disease and avian influenza.
Caged birds are efficient producers of eggs, which is testament to their care. Bird welfare continually is monitored by animal-care professionals and poultry veterinarians.
Our practices also have enhanced public safety � there has not been an egg-related salmonella outbreak in California in more than five years. And contrary to the misinformation promoted by animal-rights extremists, European and other nations are stepping up the use of cages. They are doing this to combat the potential spread of bird flu (H5N1).
As a reasonable industry, we respond to the requests of our customers. We produce organic free-range and cage-free eggs; however, the majority of our customers purchase eggs from birds that are raised in caged environments. We believe that consumers should have the choice about the kinds of eggs they wish to purchase � be it organic free-range, cage-free or caged environments. Our association's members use all of these methods in an effort to meet the various demands of the marketplace.
Finally, strip away the emotional rhetoric and one finds the true motivations of extreme animal activists: fund raising, membership growth and a desperate quest for relevancy. For them, the truth is a major inconvenience.
Our producers care about the birds in their facilities. Production decisions are based on sound science and the recommendations of animal experts. Allegations to the contrary have no basis in fact, science or an understanding of the egg industry.
Just because someone claims the sky is falling doesn't make it true.
Matteis is executive director of the Pacific Egg and Poultry Association, a Sacramento-based nonprofit agricultural trade association.
East Bay Animal Advocates
P.O. Box 1406
Martinez, CA 94553