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September 23, 2010

The Humane Society of the United States to Address ConAgra Executives About Animal Cruelty at Company’s Shareholder Meeting

At the annual shareholder meeting of ConAgra Foods (NYSE: CAG) on Friday, a representative of The Humane Society of the United States will ask the company to decrease animal cruelty in its supply chain by switching to cage-free eggs, as other food manufacturers have done.

Date: Sept. 24 at 1:30 p.m.  
Location: Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St., Omaha

The HSUS purchased stock in ConAgra as part of its efforts encouraging the $12 billion Omaha-based company to move away from using eggs from hens in confined in battery cages—barren enclosures so tiny, the birds can’t even spread their wings—as many other food companies have done. Inside battery cages, each bird has less space than a sheet of paper on which to spend her entire life.

“Hens used for ConAgra’s products are crammed into cages so small, they’re virtually immobilized for their entire lives,” stated Josh Balk, outreach director for The HSUS’ factory farming campaign. “We hope ConAgra will follow the lead of the dozens of other major food companies that have started switching to cage-free eggs.”

The New York Times called cage-free eggs the food industry’s “latest have-to-have-it product.” Sara Lee, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, Pepperidge Farm, and dozens of restaurant chains—including Burger King, Denny’s, Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Sonic, Arby’s, Golden Corral, Quiznos and Subway—have begun converting to cage-free eggs. Compass Group, the world’s largest foodservice provider, has switched roughly 100 million eggs to cage-free. And supermarket chains including Wal-Mart, Costco, and Safeway have all increased their sales of cage-free eggs.

Facts

  • Every one of the last 10 studies comparing cage to cage-free systems found higher Salmonella rates in cage systems.
  • California and Michigan have passed laws to phase out the extreme confinement of hens in battery cage, and similar legislation is pending in other states.
  • 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 like caged hens 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.
  • Factory farming continues to be a major social issue: Oprah Winfrey dedicated an entire show to the issue, TIME magazine has written extensively on the topic, and The American Conservative ran a cover article about the abuse inherent in confining animals so tightly they can barely move called “Torture on the Farm.”

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Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your iPhone by searching “HumaneTV” in the App Store.

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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