RSPCA urges consumer boycott of supermarkets over eggs
Animal charity calls for retailer pledges on free range eggs
December 11 2002
The RSPCA has criticised supermarkets Asda, Safeway, Sainsbury and Tesco over their use of eggs laid by battery or caged hens.
The society wants consumers to put pressure on supermarkets to make a commitment not to used imported battery eggs if there is a UK ban on caging hens.
The supermarkets named were not able to give a commitment that they would not sell eggs laid by battery hens, or avoid their use in own-brand products. Most offer consumers the choice of free range or barn eggs, but do not specify whch type are used as ingredients in own brand products.
Marks & Spencer, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols came top of the society’s hen welfare ratings, for stocking only free-range or barn eggs and avoiding all use of battery eggs in their own-brand food products.
The RSPCA has written to major supermarkets and caterers urging them to sign its Uncaged egg pledge, making a commitment not to sell or use eggs from battery cages.
The food service industry has also been targeted, with Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonalds and Pizza Express seen as the most welfare-friendly way when it comes to their choice of egg, while Hilton was among those most committed to using battery egg.
The government is currently assessing the evidence to ban ‘enriched’ battery cages as well as conventional ones, which will be outlawed in 2012. There are fears that the move would hurt UK farmers if retailers and foodservice operators imported battery eggs from overseas in the event of a total UK ban.
The RSPCA is also highlighting to consumers that 80 per cent of all processed foods use battery eggs in products such as quiches, cakes, biscuits, sandwich fillings, sauces and mayonnaise.
Dr Abigail Hall of the RSPCA farm animals department said: “Consumers have a crucial role to play in persuading supermarkets and caterers not to sell eggs or egg-based foods from battery systems. Farm animal welfare is in all our hands, and we urge the public to vote with their shopping baskets and put pressure on retailers for change in the husbandry of our laying hens. If consumers demand change, the food industry will take note.”
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