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April 1, 2010

This Easter, California Hops Away from Cage Cruelty

Across California this Easter, scores of restaurants and food service providers are rapidly joining a movement away from Easter eggs from hens cruelly confined in cages. It's a campaign spearheaded by The Humane Society of the United States against inhumane cages to confine egg-laying hens.

The HSUS has worked with nearly 50 California food service providers including Palo Alto-based Bon Appétit Management Company, grocers, restaurants and other egg buyers that have converted to millions of cage-free eggs. And dozens of California colleges and universities such as UC San Diego, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara and Humboldt State University are using cage-free eggs in their cafeterias.

California consumers are jumping on the bandwagon, too. Sales of cage-free eggs to grocery shoppers increased 150 percent in three years by the industry's own calculations.

"Easter is the perfect time for consumers to join California's tremendous movement away from cruel cages on egg factory farms," stated Jennifer Fearing, California senior state director for The HSUS. "Those who intend to hunt for eggs this Easter can protect hens from some of the worst factory farm abuses by leaving eggs from caged hens out of their Easter baskets, opting instead for cage-free, free-range, organic or even plastic eggs."

On Election Day 2008, this campaign culminated in the passage of California's most-popular citizen ballot initiative ever: Proposition 2, the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act. In a landslide, 8.2 million Californians (63.5 percent) voted to approve the measure to prohibit cages for laying hens and crates for breeding pigs and calves.

Now, many California businesses won't accept this cruel and shameful treatment of farm animals, either. On college campuses, in institutional kitchens and restaurants, cage eggs are on the way out and cage-free eggs are coming into their own.

Many supermarket chains have taken steps to increase their sales of cage-free eggs, including Harris Teeter, Winn-Dixie, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Safeway. National restaurant chains—including Burger King, Wendy's, Subway, Denny's, Red Robin, Quiznos, Sonic, Hardee's and Carl's Jr.—have also started using cage-free eggs.

Facts:

  • In a landslide 2008 vote, nearly 64 percent of California voters passed Prop 2, outlawing cage confinement of egg-laying hens statewide (with a phase-out). So-called enriched cages are not compliant with Prop 2 and severely restrict important behaviors. An abundance of science shows that they are detrimental to hen welfare.
  • Factory egg farms are ripping cages out of sheds as hundreds of companies and schools switch away from cage eggs. As a result of Proposition 2, millions of hens in California will be spared a lifetime of misery in cages where they can barely move.
  • U.S. factory farms confine about 280 million hens in barren cages so small, they can't even spread their wings. Extensive scientific research confirms this causes suffering.
  • Cage-free hens generally have two to three times more space per bird than caged hens. Cage-free hens may not be able to go outside and may have parts of their beaks cut off, but they can walk, spread their wings, and lay their eggs in nests—all behaviors permanently denied to hens crammed into battery cages.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization—backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty—on the web at humanesociety.org.

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