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People of faith urged to avoid 'cruelty' eggs

January 20, 2012:

Unhappy hens: Chickens enduring life in a battery cage. Picture: Farm Sanctuary

A leading animal welfare campaigner has called on people of faith to exercise caution when buying eggs from shops and supermarkets.

While British farmers have spent £400 million complying with a new EU law, which came into force on January 1 this year on the size of battery cages, egg producers in 13 other EU countries have refused to stop using the tiny cages.

The old battery cages housing five or six birds allow 550 sq cm (the same size as two-thirds of a sheet of A4 paper) per bird and are 38cms high. The new cages house between 50 and 80 birds, provide 750 sq cms for each bird and are 45cms high.

Compassion In World Farming’s Director of Public Affairs Joyce D’Silva told the Alliance of Religions And Conservation: 'CIWF urges people of faith to be extra-vigilant when they are buying eggs from shops and supermarkets. They could find they are being offered eggs that could have been produced by farmers who are not complying with the new EU laws.'

Joyce added: 'It’s terrible that we are in this position in the first place – the ban was voted for in 1999. There should be red faces in some European countries. Given the years they’ve had to prepare for this ban, there are no excuses. We are calling on the European Commission to prosecute those countries who have failed to comply.

'The EU should be rightfully proud of the ban on barren cages. It’s a great achievement for animal welfare. It’s essential now to make sure that the ban is properly enforced, so consumers can buy products with confidence that they don’t contain illegal eggs.'

Happier hens: Chickens living the good life. Picture: Hunter-Desportes
Joyce was a headline speaker at ARC’s Faith In Food workshop in London last April attended by representatives faith groups in Britain. She told the 60 delegates that it would seem ‘odd’ to her to thank God for food if that food had come from such a disturbing background.

A report in The Daily Mail on December 29, 2011, revealed that the National Farmers’ Union had joined animal welfare campaigners in condemning the British authorities and the EU for failing to impose a ban on eggs produced by hens surviving in 'cruel' cages.

The report said: 'That means British farmers, who have gone to great expense to meet the deadline to get rid of their cages, could find they are undercut and maybe forced out of business.

'At the same time, British consumers could end up supporting illegally produced eggs by buying from food manufacturers and restaurants that use them.

Farmers 'bitterly disappointed'

'Alice Clark, senior scientist from the RSPCA said: "If nothing is done to stop these illegal eggs coming in to the UK, it could be seen as rewarding producers who are still using cruel, conventional battery cages. There is a real danger that shoppers will unwittingly buy illegal eggs, which will not even meet minimum welfare standards. It will be particularly difficult to trace illegal eggs when they've been used in ingredients in foods such as ready meals, sandwiches, cakes and Yorkshire puddings, where they don't have to be labelled with a production system or country of origin."

'NFU poultry board chairman Charles Bourns said British farmers were "bitterly disappointed" that the sale and import of battery cage eggs had not been banned.

'And farming Minister Jim Paice said: "It is unacceptable that after the ban on battery cages comes into effect, around 50 million hens across Europe will still remain in poor conditions. It would be unthinkable if countries continuing to house hens in poor conditions were to profit from flouting the law." '

To read the report in full, please click here.

To go to the CIWF website, please click here.

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January 20, 2012:
People of faith urged to avoid 'cruelty' eggs
A leading animal welfare campaigner has called on people of faith to exercise caution when buying eggs from shops and supermarkets.