A recent undercover investigation of several Sparboe Farms egg facilities revealed the unconscionable treatment of chickens on factory farms. The film, produced by the animal rights group, Mercy for Animals, depicts cruelties inherent to the conventional factory system: thousands of birds crammed into tiny cages, desiccated remains of birds left in cages with living birds, male chicks thrown into trash bags to suffocate to death, painful hot blade debeaking of chicks, sick and injured animals denied proper veterinary care, and workers roughly and callously handling hens. As a result of the Mercy for Animals investigation, as well as its own inspections, the Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to Sparboe for 13 food safety violations. In the aftermath, several companies (including McDonald’s and Target) dropped Sparboe egg products. In a damage control effort, Sparboe joined United Egg Producers (UEP), an industry group that requires producers to meet minimum animal welfare standards. Unfortunately, this is little more than a token gesture; the UEP Certified program allows some of the worst practices captured in the film, such as confining hens in battery cages and hot blade debeaking of chicks. Sadly, Sparboe is not an exceptional case; most of the practices recorded in the film are common in battery cage systems, which house 95 percent of all laying hens in the United States. To watch the Mercy for Animals video, visit www.mcdonaldscruelty.com.
AWI Quarterly Issue