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October 4, 2010

Union Hospital Joins National Cage-Free Egg Movement

Union Hospital of Cecil County, Md., has improved food safety and animal welfare by switching to cage-free eggs, garnering praise from The Humane Society of the United States. As part of its new initiative, Union Hospital’s food service operations will move away from eggs from hens confined in tiny cages that provide each bird less space than a sheet of paper to spend her entire life.

Union Hospital’s switch to cage-free eggs couldn’t come at a better time. Last month’s recall of half a billion eggs spotlighted the animal welfare and food safety problems associated with confining animals in cages. In fact, all 10 studies published in the last five years comparing Salmonella rates in cage and cage-free operations found increased Salmonella rates in cage operations.

“The Humane Society of the United States applauds Union Hospital for its switch to cage-free eggs and hopes more hospitals will follow its lead,” said Kristie Middleton, corporate outreach manager for The HSUS' factory farming campaign. “Union Hospital should be commended for improving food safety and the lives of animals in its supply chain.”

More than a dozen U.S. hospitals and hospital systems have switched to cage-free eggs in recent years. Major food manufacturers Otis Spunkmeyer, Pepperidge Farm and Sara Lee are switching millions of eggs in their products to cage-free. Hellmann’s mayonnaise recently announced that it will convert all 350 million eggs it uses each year to cage-free. Major restaurant chains—including Subway, Burger King, Wendy’s, Denny’s, Sonic, Quiznos, Hardee’s, Red Robin and Carl's Jr.—use cage-free eggs. And supermarket chains including Wal-Mart, Costco and Safeway have taken steps to increase their cage-free egg sales.

California and Michigan have passed laws to outlaw the cage confinement of hens, and California passed a law requiring all whole eggs used in the state to be cage-free by 2015.

Facts

  • U.S. factory farms confine about 280 million hens in 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, 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 cages.

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Follow The HSUS on Twitter.

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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