On February 15, Compassion Over Killing filed a lawsuit against several egg producers which display Atlanta-based United Egg Producers’ “Animal Care Certified” logo on cartons of eggs produced. The logo appears on eggs produced by more than 80 percent of egg producers in the United States, but Compassion Over Killing charges that the certification is deceptive to consumers.
United Egg Producers began its certification program in 2002. According to the UEP web site, egg producers are audited annually as to whether or not they meet guidelines the UEP has set for animal care. According to UEP,
The guidelines place top priority on the comfort, health and safety of the chickens and include:
– Increased cage space per hen, which is being phased in to avoid market disruptions.
– Standards for molting procedures based on the most current, verified scientific studies.
– Standards for trimming of chicksÂ’ beaks, when necessary, to avoid pecking and cannibalism.
– Maintaining constant supply of fresh feed, water and air ventilation throughout the chicken house and monitoring for ammonia.
– Standards for daily inspection of each bird as well proper handling and transportation.
– Availability of a new training video to instruct producer staffs on the proper handling of chickens to avoid injury to the animals.
Producers which comply with the standards set out by United Egg Producers are allowed to have their eggs carry an “Animal Care Certified” stamp.
According to a press release, Compassion Over Killing filed it lawsuit, “alleging that the “Animal Care Certified” (ACC) logo stamped on egg cartons deceives shoppers by conveying a false message of humane animal care.” Compassion Over Killing claims the certification is deceptive because the guidelines still allow egg producers to,
* Confine birds in cages so small they can’t even spread their wings,
* Slice off parts of their beaks without painkiller, and
* Starve them to the point where they’ve lost up to 30 percent of their bodyweight.
Compassion Over Killing notes that the Better Business Bureau examined the certification label at COK’s request and found it deceptive, but, of course, the BBB has no sort of legal authority in this area, and so far the Federal Trade Commission hasn’t taken up the issue.
A spokesman for the United Egg Producers told the Associated Press that COK’s lawsuit was “a nuisance lawsuit.”
Animal Advocacy Group Sues Over Eggs. Associated Press, February 15, 2005.
Animal Care. United Egg Producers, Undated.
COK Takes Retailers and Egg Producer to Court for Misleading Claims on Egg Cartons. Press release, Compassion Over Killing, February 15, 2005.
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