Nestlé, the world’s largest food and beverage company, has announced that it will switch to using only cage-free eggs in all its Canadian products by 2025. This is the latest in a series of similar announcements from some of North America’s largest food companies, including Kellogg’s, Unilever, General Mills, Gordon Foodservice, Compass Group, McDonald’s, and Boston Pizza.
Nestlé Canada’s policy change will help prevent the cruelty egg-laying hens currently suffer as a result of life in cages. The move is the result of productive discussions with Mercy For Animals, an international farmed animal protection organization.
Caged egg-laying hens are confined in barren wire structures so small the birds are unable to walk, nest, spread their wings without touching other birds, or carry out other natural behaviors. Many birds are mangled or die as a result of trapped limbs and overcrowding, and the massive number of animals housed in a single barn contributes to the spread of disease and rise of superbugs. Dead birds are often left to rot alongside birds still laying eggs for human consumption.
Earlier this year, Mercy For Animals shot disturbing undercover footage at a massive Gray Ridge egg factory farm in Ontario showing thousands of birds packed into filthy wire cages, hardly able to move without crawling over other birds. Severely sick and injured birds are left to suffer and slowly die without proper veterinary care, and the bodies of dead animals are seen decomposing in cages with live birds.
A survey conducted by NRG Research Group found that 79 percent of Canadians believe the National Farm Animal Care Council should advise egg farmers to use cage-free systems and 83 percent of Canadians said the government should enact laws mandating cage-free egg production. NFACC’s mandate is to represent consumer, marketplace, and societal expectations relative to farm animal welfare; however, the current draft of the Layer Code of Practice for the care and housing of egg-laying hens ignores them all.
Mercy For Animals is calling on the NFACC, which receives millions of taxpayer dollars, to ensure that the final version of the Layer Code of Practice clearly advises egg farmers to stop using cages.
Governments around the globe increasingly recognize the inherent cruelty of battery cages. At present, the European Union and a number of U.S. states have banned this method of raising hens. It is time for Canada to follow suit.
Krista Hiddema, vice president of Mercy For Animals in Canada, applauds Nestlé ‘s decision: “We’re thrilled to see that Nestlé Canada has committed to helping protect the lives of farmed animals. Nestlé’s updated policy will significantly improve the welfare of millions of egg-laying hens here in Canada, and we hope that it will encourage the National Farm Animal Care Council, the pseudo-governmental body responsible for drafting the codes of practice for farmed animal care, to ensure that the final Layer Code of Practice recommends only cage-free housing.”
To learn more about Mercy For Animals and its work to help farmed animals, visit MercyForAnimals.org.