Taxpayer-Funded Animal Care Committee Accused of Ignoring Blatant Animal Cruelty in New Egg Code

Animal Welfare Advocates Cry Fowl After National Farm Animal Care Council Releases Updated Code of Practice Permitting the Extreme Confinement of Egg-Laying Hens in Cruel Cages

OTTAWA, June 30, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - Mercy For Animals is calling out the taxpayer-funded National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) for failing to prohibit the cruel confinement of egg-laying hens in wire cages. Today the Council released the highly anticipated Recommended Code of Practice for the treatment of egg-laying hens, which failed to require cage-free housing systems. Animal welfare advocates expected the code, which hadn't been updated in more than ten years, to require producers to move toward cage-free housing systems to reflect the interests of Canadian taxpayers, consumers, grocers, and food producers, who have begun demanding such a switch. Instead, the new code continues to allow the extreme confinement of egg-laying hens in wire cages—something that is widely regarded as one of the cruelest and most out-of-date factory farming practices in the world.

Specifically, the revised code allows egg farmers to confine millions of hens to wire cages for nearly their entire lives. These cages are typically stacked in tiers inside giant windowless sheds. Undercover investigations by Mercy For Animals have shown that in such extreme confinement, egg-laying hens can't even spread their wings, much less move around without stepping on and climbing over other hens. Denied nearly everything that comes naturally to them, these birds never get to see the sun, breathe fresh air, or feel the grass beneath their feet.

In fact, confining hens to cages is considered so cruel the practice has been banned or severely restricted in the European Union and several U.S. states, including California and Michigan. Additionally, nearly every major Canadian food retailer and restaurant chain, including Tim Horton's, McDonald's, Loblaws, Metro, Sobeys, A&W, Costco, and Walmart, have taken a stand against this blatant animal abuse by pledging to switch to 100 percent cage-free eggs.

In addition to ignoring serious animal welfare problems, the revised code flies in the face of consumer preferences. A recent survey conducted by NRG Research Group found the overwhelming majority of Canadians oppose the practice of confining egg-laying hens in cages. The survey shows that 79 percent of Canadians believe NFACC should prohibit the use of cages in egg production, and 83 percent of Canadians believe the government should enact laws banning their use. Eighty-one percent of Canadians feel that cages should be prohibited even if it increases the price of eggs. Strikingly, a majority of Canadians believe that NFACC should not receive any more taxpayer funding if it fails to recommend a transition to cage-free egg production.

Mercy For Animals is calling on NFACC—which receives millions of taxpayer dollars to develop codes of practice for the care and housing of farmed animals—to listen to consumers and advise egg farmers to stop using cages when it releases the final version of the code following the public comment period.

"NFACC has failed both animals and Canadian consumers. While Canada's restaurant, grocery, and food manufacturing industries have been quickly moving away from the cruel confinement of hens in cages, NFACC has been sitting idly by, allowing this abuse to continue," said Mercy For Animals' president, Nathan Runkle. "It's time for NFACC to get with the times and issue a clear recommendation that cages of any kind should be removed from Canadian egg production. Canadians oppose animal abuse and reject the cruel confinement of hens in cages."


SOURCE Mercy For Animals

For further information: Krista Hiddema: 416-666-3093; Vandhana Bala: 312-909-6051

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