Animal Aid

Sainsbury's to phase out caged hen eggs

Posted 20 March 2007

Sainsbury’s announced today (March 20, 2007) a firm commitment to phasing out ALL eggs from caged hens ahead of the 2012 ban on battery cages. This will also include eggs from the proposed enriched cages – that will be slightly larger with a higher roof, a perch and scratching area – which are set to replace the current battery system.

This comes amid the recent news that 500 million battery eggs have been imported from Europe over the past five years and relabelled as free-range. Thousands of consumers – thinking they were buying a ‘welfare-friendly’ product – have been duped into buying products from intensive farming systems.

Although this recent mislabelling has turned out to be a scam – how many more food products are being mislabelled? Do you really know what you are eating and where it has come from? Many of the eggs used in ready-meals, cakes and biscuits and in the catering trade are from caged hens.

Another labelling issue to hit the headlines recently is the discovery of a loophole in the law that allows foreign meat to be branded ‘British’. Food can be labelled as produced in which ever country it was processed last.

Confusing food labels mean shoppers who are keen to buy what they consider to be products from farming systems with higher welfare standards are unwittingly buying the opposite. However, terms such as ‘free-range’ and ‘organic’ that are often regarded as being cruelty-free, are very different in reality. Thousands of ‘free-range’ hens may be packed into huge sheds with limited access to the outdoors. Often, less than half of the birds roam freely in to and out of the sheds because the others are simply unable to fight their way through to the exits.

Whether battery, free-range or organic, all egg-laying hens meet a brutal end at the slaughterhouse. There are also 30 million day-old male chicks – products of the hen breeding industry – who are gassed or tossed alive into giant industrial shredders each year in the UK. They are killed because they are unable to lay eggs and are considered too scrawny a type of chicken for meat production. The only way to ensure the products you buy are cruelty-free is to go vegan.

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