Packaged food from agricultural animals is increasingly identified by appealing claims such as "natural" and "happy" as if to suggest that the animals from which the products come were treated humanely. With no regulation on such terms, producers can easily deceive customers. Such is the case with United Egg Producers' (UEP) "Animal Care Certified" label. UEP, the egg industry's trade association, labels its products as "Animal Care Certified" and describes the program as the customers "assurance that the eggs you are buying are from hens receiving the highest level of care...we care about the welfare of our hens...the guidelines place top priority on the comfort, health and safety of the chickens."
Nothing could be further from the truth. Over 225 million laying hens are subjected to abuse frighteningly codified by UEP's misnamed program. "Animal Care Certified" eggs come from hens who are: 1) intensively confined in barren, wire cages so small the birds cannot spread their wings and which prohibit them from dustbathing, 2) beak trimmed, in which an unanesthetized bird's beak is cut off, and 3) force-molted or starved for up to two weeks to artificially induce the laying of additional, larger eggs. Fortunately, Compassion Over Killing brought this disingenuous marketing to the attention of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and in May, the BBB's highest authority on advertising issues determined that the UEP label is in fact misleading and should not be used considering most consumers would not consider the treatment of the hens, under the program, humane. Compliance with the ruling is voluntary, but groups that refuse are referred to federal agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission, which could stop the advertising and levy fines. Evidently non-compliance is so infrequent that, if referred, the case would be highly scrutinized. We hope strong action is taken against this dishonest labeling.