Specialist food service company Trusthouse Services Group has improved animal welfare and food safety by switching more than 1.5 million shell (whole) eggs it uses to cage-free, garnering praise from the Humane Society of the United States. The Charlotte-based company runs dining operations at roughly 300 accounts across the country and serves 75,000 meals a day. As part of its new initiative, Trusthouse is moving away from eggs produced by hens confined in tiny cages that provide each bird less space than a sheet of paper to spend her entire life.
“By switching to exclusively cage-free shell eggs at all of its hundreds of accounts, Trusthouse Services Group is improving the lives of animals and ensuring a safer food supply,” said Josh Balk, director of corporate policy for the HSUS’ factory farming campaign. “The Humane Society of the United States is thrilled with this announcement and our work with Trusthouse on tackling this important issue.”
“As a food service industry leader, we know that addressing animal cruelty issues is the right thing to do,” said Mark Fortino, Trusthouse’s director of purchasing. “We’re proud that our switch to exclusively cage-free shell eggs will ensure that many animals have a better life, while also demonstrating our commitment to continually strive for more sustainable and healthy food for our customers.”
Last summer’s recall of half a billion eggs spotlighted the animal welfare and food safety problems associated with confining hens in cages. All 15 studies published in the last five years comparing Salmonella rates in cage and cage-free operations found increased Salmonella rates in cage operations.
Major food manufacturers Kraft, Otis Spunkmeyer and Sara Lee are switching millions of eggs in their products to cage-free. Hellmann’s mayonnaise announced it is converting 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, Carl's Jr. and Red Robin—use cage-free eggs. And supermarket chains including Wal-Mart, Costco and Safeway have taken steps to increase 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.
- U.S. factory farms confine about 280 million hens in cages so small, they can't even spread their wings. Extensive scientific research (PDF) 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.
- Factory farming is a major social issue: A study by food industry consultancy Technomic ranked animal welfare as the third-most important social issue to restaurant patrons, and an American Farm Bureau-funded report found that 89 percent of Americans believe that food companies that require their suppliers to treat farm animals better are doing the right thing.
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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.
TrustHouse Services Group is the parent company of three regional foodservice companies that operate extensively in the Education and Healthcare markets, specializing in feeding children in both the public and private K-12 sector as well as students attending colleges and universities. Another specialty is the Long-Term Healthcare market where food is prepared fresh on-site at over 100 congregate care and assisted living facilities.
TrustHouse Services Group operates in 22 states under the brand names of Aladdin Food Management, Fitz Vogt & Associates and AmerServe Food Management Services, and is the 17th largest food-service provider in the United States. 98% of the groups' sales are derived from the Education and Healthcare markets.
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