Ben & Jerry's has committed itself to abandoning its current egg supplier and phasing in the use of eggs that come from hens housed under higher welfare standards. That story is in a few papers today, Wednesday, September 27. Associated Press coverage means it is likely to be in more tomorrow.
The New York Times carries the story as part of Marian Burros's "Eating Well Notebook" on the front page of the Dining Section (F1). Burros heads the piece, "Et Tu, Ben and Jerry?" and writes:
"First Chicago banned the sale of foie gras. Then Whole Foods stopped selling live lobster. Now Ben and Jerry's has pledged not to use eggs that come from a farm that the Humane Society of the United States has accused of being cruel to its laying hens. Animal rights activists are on a roll. While they pursue high-profile cases they are also signing up farmers who, in exchange for taking a pledge to treat their animals humanely, are permitted to label their products 'Certified Humane. In its latest efforts on behalf of animals, the Humane Society has shamed Ben and Jerry's into changing to eggs from cage-free hens by calling the company hypocritical for criticizing 'giant industrial farming operations' on its Web site."
Canada's National Post tells us:
"Ice cream maker Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc. said yesterday it would gradually move to using eggs from chickens that are not housed in cages. The decision was made after meetings this year with the Humane Society of the United States, it said. Because it will take time to line up suppliers of these eggs, the company said, the transition will be phased in over four years. 'Earlier this year, the Humane Society of the United States brought to our attention issues related to the treatment of egg-laying hens,' Rob Michalak, the company's director of social mission, said in a statement. The Humane Society says housing chickens in cages prevents them from behaving naturally." ( Pg. FP7)
Today's Associated Press piece gives more information:
"The Vermont ice cream maker will become the first national food manufacturer to require egg producers to allow their laying hens to live outside cages...
"The company agreed to the change after the Humane Society made an issue last month of the fact that Ben & Jerry's bought eggs from Michael Foods Inc., of Minnetonka, Minn., which couldn't guarantee its hens were being treated properly.....It called on Ben & Jerry's to stop buying eggs from Michael Foods, which the Humane Society said had hens dying of starvation, live hens living among dead ones and sick birds caught in cage wires.
And, "According to the Humane Society, 95 percent of the eggs produced in the United States come from egg producers that keep hens in tightly-packed cages known as batteries that are so cramped, the birds can't spread their wings.
On the new standards we read:
"Once the program is implemented, the eggs that Ben & Jerry's uses will come from hens that have nests, perches and dust bathing areas. 'It's a higher standard than merely cage-free,' Shapiro (HSUS) said."
You can learn more about the campaign and decision, and view footage of battery caged hens, at http://www.hsus.org/farm/news/ournews/ben_jerrys_victory.html
On a related note, last week we learned that the egg industry has agreed to permanently drop "Animal Care Certified" logos on egg cartons, replacing those labels with "United Egg Producers Certified," and to pay $100,000 to states for attorney fees, consumer education and other costs. The agreement was reached after animal rights groups revealed the horrendous conditions under which "Animal Care Certified" eggs were produced. You can learn more about that case, spearheaded by Compassion Over Killing, at http://www.cok.net/camp/acc/
You can send a letter to the New York Times, about the Ben & Jerry's announcement, at email@example.com
And Canadians should write to the National Post by going to http://tinyurl.com/85bvu
Please keep an eye out for the story in your local paper. It provides a perfect opportunity for letters that teach readers about the general plight of egg-laying hens. Don't hesitate to ask me for help if you cannot find the correct email address for a letter to you editor. And I am always happy to edit letters.
Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.
Yours and the animals',
(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. To unsubscribe, go to http://www.dawnwatch.com/cgi-bin/dada/dawnwatch_unsubscribe.cgi You are encouraged to forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts but please do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this tag line.)
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Date: Wed Sep 27 18:22:53 2006