United Egg Producers Agrees to Modify “Animal Care Certified” Logo

In October, United Egg Producers agreed to modify the logo it uses to certify egg producers that meet its egg production standards.

The logo had read “Animal Care Certified,” but in 2003 and 2004 the Better Business Bureau found that the logo was deceptive and forwarded a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission which had been dragging its heels in deciding one way or the other on whether or not the wording was deceptive.

United Egg Producers short-circuited that process altogether by deciding to change the logo to read “United Egg Producers Certified” with the tagline, “Produced in compliance with United Egg Producers Animal Husbandry Guidelines.”

Erica Meier of Compassion Over Killing, which has filed a number of lawsuits over the past couple years charging that the “Animal Care Certified” logo was deceptive, told the Washington Post,

Consumers will be able to make more informed buying choices and won’t be duped or deceived into buying eggs that were produced by animal cruelty. They will more than likely opt for eggs labeled as cage-free or free-range.

Meier added in a prepared statement,

While the egg industry’s husbandry guidelines still permit routine animal cruelty, at least the new logo will no longer convey a false message of humane animal care. The industry’s next step should be to amend its guidelines to prohibit battery cages.

Not likely. As United Egg Producers spokesman Mike Head told the Washington Post,

We support cage-free eggs as a choice for consumers. We say, let consumers make their own choice. They are making their choice right now, and 98 percent of them are choosing conventional eggs.

. . .

The program is intact, which for us is a great victory. The only thing that was in question was the words on the logo itself. That’s why we decided, ‘Let’s change the words, because we don’t want a cloud hanging over this.’

Since free range eggs are significantly more expensive than those produced by hens confined to cages, I wouldn’t be the farm on Meier’s prediction of a sudden surge by consumer’s to such eggs because of a slight change of wording on an egg carton logo.


Egg Label Changed After Md. Group Complains. Nelson Hernandez, Washington Post, October 4, 2005.

Egg producers group agrees to alter logo, settling complaint. Des Moines Register, October 4, 2005.

Egg producers relent on industry seal. Alexei Barrionuevo, The New York times, October 4, 2005.

Federal Trade Commission Announces End to Misleading Egg Logo. Press Release, Compassion Over Killing, October 4, 2005.

Matt Prescott and Lara Sanders Pull Off Marriage Proposal Stunt

Animal rights activists Matt Prescott and Lara Sanders pulled off a marriage proposal stunt at an August 5 New York Yankees-Toronto Blue Jays game at Rogers Center in Toronto.

Prescott, who works for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, paid $250 to reserve a marriage proposal to be broadcast on the stadium’s Jumbotron. When the Jumbotron camera focused on the pair, Prescott held up a sign saying,

John Bitove and KFC Cripple Chickens

Bitove is the owner of the NBA’s Toronto Raptors and KFC Canada.

Well, this is certainly an improvement on Prescott’s last big idea. He’s the idiot at PETA who came up with the “Holocaust On Your Plate” campaign.


Man proves he’s not chicken. Craig Smith, Tribune-Review (Pittsburgh), August 9, 2005.

Lovebirds Engage KFC During Yankees-Blue Jays Game. Press Release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, August 2005.

Compassion Over Killing Files Lawsuit Against Egg Producers Over Animal Care Certification

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.

Maryland State’s Attorney Acquits Perdue Farms of Cruelty Charges

In an odd outcome the Worcester County State’s Attorney, Joel Todd, essentially acquitted Perdue Farms of charges of animal cruelty that the company faced in Maryland.

The case began when Compassion Over Killing charged the chicken producer with animal cruelty. COK outreach coordinator Joshua Balk worked at a Perdue plant in Showell, Maryland, which has since been closed.

While an employee, Balk videotaped the processing line, and later turned that videotape over to prosecutors claiming that it showed animal abuse and the results of what COK believes is improper or non-existent training of workers.

Todd met with Worcester County Sheriff Chuck Martin, Compassion Over Killing general counsel Carter Dillard, and Balk. At that time, Todd expressed his view that the videotape did not show a crime. He told The Maryland Coast Dispatch,

We all met and reviewed the tapes together. I felt the evidence lacked merit, and there was no probable cause that Perdue Farms was guilty of any crime based on the information provided to me. They committed no crime.

But after viewing the tape for himself, Worcester County District Commissioner Earline Loomis decided that the evidence on the videotape did warrant prosecution of Perdue Farms for animal cruelty.

Under Maryland law, however, a state’s attorney can “confess a verdict of not guilty” which effectively pre-empts a trial and functions the same as a not guilty verdict in that the defendant cannot be retried on the charge. According to the Maryland Coast Dispatch, this is rarely used, but Todd invoked this power nonetheless to pre-empt the Perdue Farms trial and effectively acquit the company of the abuse charges.

The decision to do so certainly caught Compassion Over Killing by surprise. Dillard told The Maryland Coast Dispatch,

In essence, the state intervened and prevented Perdue from ever having to go to court and be put in the spotlight to face these charges. We are very disappointed that Mr. Todd chose this very unusual procedure.

. . .

It is odd that you can get an acquittal, without the defendant even having to appear in court. This cut out the availability of public input . . .

Compassion Over Killing campaign director Erica Neier add,

The bottom line is that this sends a message that in Worcester County, corporations, especially Perdue Farms, don’t have to abide by Maryland’s animal cruelty laws. So, companies can handle animals in any manner they see fit.


Todd acquits Perdue of all charges in cruelty case. Benjamin Mook, The Maryland Coast Dispatch, February 4, 2005.

More Joan Dunayer on Animal Rights vs. Animal Rights Welfarists

In response to criticism of her book, Speciesism, and specifically its attacks on the more non-abolitionist elements of the animal rights movement, Joan Dunayer recently posted a long section of her book which deals with this topic to animal rights mailing list AR-News.

Dunayer charges that animal rights activists who work for reform of certain practices are hypocritical or, at the least, not true to their ideals,

Asking KFC or any other company to implement less-cruel slaughter of chickens conveys this message: “It’s alright for you to kill chickens, provided that you do it in the least cruel way.” As David Nilbert has stated, nonhuman advocates shouldn’t ask a company to sell body parts from chickens slaughtered less cruelly; they should demand that the company “stop selling fried body parts of chickens altogether.” . . .

“Welfarist” campaigning perpetuates a speciesist double standard between humans and nonhumans. As expressed by Francione, treating “the nonhuman context different from the human context” indicates “species bias.”

If I were in a Nazi concentration camp and someone on the outside asked me, “Do you want me to work for better living conditions, more-humane deaths in the gas chamber, or the liberation of all concentration camps?” I’d answer, “Liberation.” In fact, I’d find the question bizarre and offensive. I’d regard any focus on better living conditions or more-“humane” deaths as immoral. It’s equally immoral to focus on better living conditions or more-“humane” killing of enslaves and slaughtered nonhumans.

. . .

Time, money, and effort always are limited. Activists should devote every available minute and dollar to reducing the number of victims and bringing the day of emancipation closer — by promoting veganism and building public support for nonhuman rights. Over the long term, the best way to reduce hen suffering is to increase opposition to hen enslavement, not to seek “improvements” in that enslavement.

Dunayer goes on to argue that animal rights activists who campaign for improved treatment of animals might actually increase their suffering,

Groups such as UPC and AVAR have campaigned against total-starvation forced molting. A ban on any or all types of forced molting would be “welfarist,” not abolitionist. Such a ban-actually a requirement that enslavers give hens adequate food and water-would leave hens to be killed when their egg laying declines.

The forced-molting issue epitomizes the tradeoffs that “reforms” often entail. A ban on forced molting would mean that many more chickens would be enslaved and murdered. “Laying hens” would pass through the egg industry at a faster pace: egg-factory owners who previously used forced molting would “dispose of” and “replace” them after a shorter period. The number of hens and roosters used as breeders also would increase. So would the number of male chicks born and killed.

Even so, Paul Shapiro, Campaigns Director of Compassion Over Killing, has argued that, overall, a forced-molting ban might reduce the suffering of chickens because forced molting causes suffering and prolongs the time during which a hen lives in horrendously cruel conditions. Whether or not the total amount of chicken suffering would be less without forced molting-which is impossible to determine-what are we doing when we ask that the longer suffering of fewer individuals be replaced with the shorter suffering of many more individuals? We never would say of innocent humans, “Please improve the conditions of those who are imprisoned and killed, but imprison and kill more people.” Do we really want more hens and roosters living lives of utter misery and more male chicks being born only to be suffocated or ground up alive? To a rights advocate, the whole idea of attempting to calculate which causes more suffering-torturing and killing fewer chickens over a longer period or torturing and killing more chickens over a shorter period-is morally objectionable. Either way, chickens suffer and die. Either way, their moral rights are completely violated. Remember: chickens shouldn’t be imprisoned in the first place.

According to an industry article on forced molting, the low-nutrition method of starvation was developed because “animal welfare interests” criticized the no-food method as “inhumane”; the new method “addresses the negative welfare connotation that fasting has with animal welfare organizations and consumers.” In other words, while continuing to starve hens, the industry now will claim to feed them. As a result, consumers will feel better about eating eggs.

Of course as Norm Phelps noted in his review of Speciesism, what Dunayer is calling for in practice is no improvement and no abolition, since liberation in Western societies is a non-starter. Lets hope all activists adopt Dunayer’s views!


Speciesism. Joan Dunayer, 2004.

Norm Phelps Reviews Joan Dunayer’s Speciesism

The Fund for Animals’ Norm Phelps recently reviewed Joan Dunayer’s latest missive, Speciesism. Speciesism, like all of Dunayer’s animal rights work, is strictly abolitionist with little room for dissent. Phelps doesn’t have a problem with Dunayers’ abolitionist arguments, but rather disagrees with Dunayer on how to get there.

So, for example, Phelps describes the following excerpt by Dunayer as “an intellectually consistent ethic of moral equality for all sentient beings”,

Sentience, defined as any capacity to experience, is the only logical and fair basis for rights. In nonspeciesist philosophy, all sentient beings have rights. What’s more, all sentient beings are equal. Any needless harm to nonhumans should be viewed with the same disapproval as comparable harm to humans. Am I saying that a firefly is as fully entitled to moral consideration as a rabbit or bonobo? Yes. Am I saying that a spider has as much right to life as an egret or a human? Yes. I see no logically consistent reason to say otherwise.

Phelps has no problem with this insane logic, but he cannot quite stomach the way Dunayer wants to put it in practice. As he puts it, “Unfortunately, what is elegant in theory can become hopelessly tangled upon contact with reality.”

That reality includes Dunayer’s attack on animal rights groups including United Poultry Concerns, Compassion Over Killing, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. In her book, Dunayer writes,

If I were in a Nazi concentration camp, and someone on the outside asked me, “Do you want me to work for better living conditions, more humane deaths in the gas chambers, or the liberation of all concentration camps?” I’d answer “Liberation.” I’d regard any focus on better living conditions and more “humane” deaths as immoral.

They just can’t resist the Nazi comparisons at this point. Godwin’s Law is alive and well with the animal rights movement.

But Phelps disagrees,

It is this two-pronged approach — with its simultaneous, and not entirely consistent, emphases on both liberation and reform — that is critical to success in the real world in which animals are suffering and being killed. Dunayer’s Nazi concentration camp illustration is based on the unstated assumption that animal liberation can be achieved within a fairly near time frame. But since it clearly cannot be, refusing to work for better living conditions and less painful and terrifying deaths amounts to a betrayal of the animals whom we are professing to help. We must resist the temptation to sacrifice real-world results on the altar of an ivory-tower consistency because what we are really sacrificing is animals.

Someday, maybe, they’ll be able to treat spiders and humans as morally equal, but for now they need to concentrate on more humane slaughter methods. And if Phelps doesn’t think animal liberation is right around the corner, why does The Fund for Animals keep issuing press releases saying things like it is the beginning of the end for hunting?

Its kind of amusing to see Phelps then turn to a critique of Dunayer which is a pretty good indictment of the entire animal rights movement,

Like religious fundamentalists, Joan Dunayer believes that she has found the only path to salvation and that all who do not agree with her are giving aid and comfort to the enemy. And in fact, her faith that rigid adherence to logically consistent theory is the sole route to liberation has something of the aura of religious zealotry about it. And like fundamentalists religion, her faith is not empirically based. There is absolutely no evidence to support Dunayer’s claim that working for “welfarist” reforms retards liberation. Historically, the notion that the road to social change lies in strict submission to an elegant orthodoxy has always led, not to the utopia that was promised, but to failure, disaster, or both.

Come on, Norm — religious-like zealotry? Adherence to bizarrely impossible ideals? Holier than thou attitudes? Don’t pretend as if Dunayer has a monopoly on those traits; they’re pervasive in the animal rights movement.

Again, people used to e-mail me complaining that I was distorting animal rights activists by suggesting they might grant rights even to insects, but Dunayer says spiders and humans are morally equal and the best Phelps can muster is that its a great ideal that is nonetheless impractical for now.


Trying to Walk Before We Can Crawl. Norm Phelps, Satya, January 2005.