Canada’s animal care council dragging heels on battery-cage egg ban, claim lobby groups

Canada's farmed animal care council needs to up its efforts to phase out caged egg production, say animal rights groups. Pic: ©iStock/Ryan Faas

Mercy For Animals (MFA) contends the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) is still behind the times in outlawing caged egg production.

This comes as the global farmed animal protection organization applauded Nestlé Canada for its announcement to switch to using only cage-free eggs for its local products.

Earlier this month, Nestlé Canada was the latest in a long line of global companies, including Kellogg’s and General Mills in 2015, to join the pledge to use 100% cage-free eggs by 2025.

MFA pointed to a survey conducted by the NRG Research Group that found 79% of Canadians believe the NFACC should advise egg farmers to use cage-free systems, while 83% said the government should enact laws to mandate cage-free egg production.

Get cracking

In a statement, the MFA has called on the NFACC to ensure the final version of the Layer Code of Practice clearly advises egg farmers to stop using cages.

MFA asserted the draft of the Layer Code of Practice doesn’t cover the NFACC's mandate to represent the consumer, marketplace and societal expectations on farm animal welfare.

World Animal Protection Canada has concurred, stating that the proposed updates to the Code will continue to allow producers to house hens in cages.

It also maintained the NFACC is trailing behind both corporate cage-free commitments and consumer attitudes in phasing out battery cages.

The existing Code of Practice for poultry in the egg sector was developed in 2003, but has been undergoing revision since January 2012.

All interested shareholders were granted time to comment on the draft and these are currently being revised by the Code Development Committee. The new Code is expected to be released at the beginning of 2017, according to NFACC’s website.

Egg on face

Earlier this year, MFA captured undercover video footage purporting to show a large Ontario egg farm with thousands of birds tightly packed into wire cages, sights of sick and injured birds – as well as the bodies of dead chickens decomposing among the living. 

At the time, NFACC released a statement that the draft Layer Code “addresses a wide range of welfare concerns, including all of those raised by the video”. 

The practice of raising hens in battery cages has been banned by the EU and in a number of US states. Canada is yet to follow suit.

Krista Hiddema, VP of Mercy For Animals in Canada hopes Nestlé Canada’s move will encourage the National Farm Animal Care Council to recommend only cage-free housing through the upcoming Code.

Egg-cellent moves

Nestlé Canada has committed to using 100% cage-free eggs in all its Canadian food products by 2025.

The North American food producer purchases almost 500,000 pounds of eggs and approximately $44m worth of dairy products annually.

Senior VP Catherine O’Brien said: “Working alongside Canadian farmers is an essential part of the company’s commitment to the health, care and welfare of animals.”

The company will also be pushing to eradicate practices like tail docking for cattle and pigs, gestation crates for pigs and veal crates.

Nestlé is developing pilot projects with its suppliers and World Animal Protection to establish a roadmap for sourcing cage-free eggs in Europe and the rest of the world.

The Kellogg Company has also committed to sourcing only cage-free eggs for its foods by the end of 2025.

The breakfast cereal maker has already reduced its use of eggs from caged hens in its Morningstar Farms products by 20 million eggs since 2007. Morningstar Farms is a division of The Kellogg Company that produces vegetarian food.

General Mills, too, has given itself a 2025 deadline on its move to 100% cage-free eggs in all its US products.

The Cheerios cereal maker already sources free-range eggs for its Haagen-Dazs ice creams in Europe.

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Comments (1)

Jimmy Sarkaria - 27 Dec 2016 | 02:45

Me.

You know that the picture of the caged hens in your article is not that of a Canadian farm. And the farm in Ontario did not have tightly packed birds with sick and dead birds among those producing eggs. Why is it always the same line in all the mercy for animals articles. The code of practice now includes a member of the humane society among its developers to meet and exceed standards. The current standards, which mercy for animals seem to know nothing about, have lowered mortality of flocks to less thank 1%, reduced birds per cage, provide 15-16 hours of daylight;fresh clean water; continuous bacterial tests in barns, feed mills, water wells; veterinary consultations; and daily manure removals. Why do you not speak to professors and experts in the field? No one, except those with a vegan agenda, will back up anything you say in this article.

27-Dec-2016 at 14:45 GMT

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