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June 16, 2010

HSUS Asks Federal Trade Commission to Block Egg Producer’s Claims About 'Humane' Treatment of 'Happy' Animals

The Humane Society of the United States filed a complaint Wednesday asking the Federal Trade Commission to stop Rose Acre Farms, the country's second-largest egg producer, from making false and misleading animal welfare claims.

The complaint details statements issued through Rose Acre's websites, media spokespersons, and product posters that falsely claim that Rose Acre provides a "humane and friendly environment" for its caged hens, that hens in these cages have plenty of space to move around and socialize, that only chickens who are treated well and who are "happy" will lay eggs, and other grossly misleading characterizations of the company's battery cage confinement egg operations.

As The HSUS' complaint details, however, Rose Acre's standard practices fall far below the level of care a reasonable consumer would expect of the "humane" and "friendly" treatment Rose Acre claims to provide. A February 2010 HSUS investigation at three of Rose Acre's Iowa factory farms (which collectively confine nearly four million egg-laying hens) found conditions starkly at odds with the cheerful claims made by the company, including birds trapped in the wires of battery cages, unable to reach food or water, birds with broken bones and untreated, prolapsed uteruses, the mummified corpses of hens in cages with live hens, and abandoned hens that had fallen into manure pits.

"Companies like Rose Acre are deceptively exploiting the exponentially growing consumer demand for improved animal welfare," said Jonathan Lovvorn, vice president and chief counsel of Animal Protection Litigation for The HSUS. "Rather than implementing humane reforms, far too many producers are simply slapping a 'humane' sticker on their products and hoping consumers won't know the difference."

The petition filed today asks the FTC to take prompt action to stop Rose Acre from deceiving consumers with false claims of humane care, "happy" hens, spacious housing and the like, all of which are violations of federal law.

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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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