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November 2, 2009

What Does The "UEP Certified" Logo Mean?

You may have noticed labels on your egg cartons that read "United Egg Producers Certified." What you may not know is that they refer to a voluntary egg industry program that permits factory farmers to intensively confine hens in barren, wire "battery cages" so small the birds can barely move—let alone engage in many other important natural behaviors, such as nesting, foraging, or even spreading their wings. The guidelines recommend cage space less than the size of a piece of paper—just 67 square inches—for each bird.

The United Egg Producers (UEP), the industry trade group responsible for the certification program, has a history of misleading consumers about the treatment of laying hens. In fact, the Better Business Bureau ruled (and upheld upon appeal) that the UEP engaged in misleading advertising related to animal welfare. And in late 2006, the UEP paid a $100,000 fine to settle false advertising claims by 16 state attorney general offices and the Washington, D.C., attorney general.

The bottom line: Battery cage eggs are simply too inhumane for any socially-responsible company or person to support. Is saving a few pennies on an egg worth forcing a bird to live her entire life in a space smaller than the size of a sheet of paper? If you don't think so, please don't buy eggs from caged birds.

You Can Help

Factory farmers are hoping that merely having a certification program will ease consumer concern about the abuse of egg-laying hens. However, the United Egg Producers' program permits many of the worst abuses of modern agribusiness, including intensive confinement in battery cages.

With your buying power, you can help push the egg industry toward meaningful improvements to its notoriously poor record on animal welfare.

1. Don't buy eggs from caged birds. If the carton doesn't say Certified Humane, Free Farmed, Certified Organic, cage-free, or free-range, the eggs are almost certainly from hens confined in battery cages.

2. Ask your grocer not to carry eggs from caged birds. Several major chains, including Whole Foods Market, have already adopted policies against selling battery cage eggs.

For more information, visit www.EggLabels.com.