WASHINGTON, DC, June 3,
2005 (ENS): The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
and Wild Oats Markets, Inc. Tuesday announced an agreement to avoid
the sale of eggs from caged birds in all 75 Wild Oats Natural Marketplaces,
located in 23 states.
This announcement makes Wild Oats the nation's first major chain
to formally implement a cage-free corporate policy for eggs. Wild
Oats sold 1.6 million cartons of eggs in 2004.
"Demand for improving the welfare of farm animals has never
been higher," said Perry Odak, President and CEO of Wild Oats
Markets, Inc. "We are hopeful that our decision not to approve
egg farmers who use caged birds for our national and regional product
lists will encourage the egg industry to move in the direction of
phasing out its use of battery cages, and shifting toward cage-free
methods that take the animals' welfare into account."
"Wild Oats has made a savvy business decision by positioning
itself as a corporation sensitive to animal welfare concerns,"
said Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO. "Socially aware
consumers want to know that animal products sold at retail are produced
in a humane and sustainable manner, and with egg production, it
is well established that raising birds outside of cages is the most
responsible production system."
Approximately 98 percent of eggs sold in the United States come
from birds confined in barren "battery cages" so small
they can't even spread their wings, let alone engage in other natural
behaviors such as nesting, foraging, perching, and dust bathing
- a practice that 86 percent of Americans surveyed by Zogby International
find unacceptable. Despite this, battery cage egg production has
increased over the last 50 years.
According to HSUS Factory Farming Campaign manager Paul Shapiro,
"Birds in battery cages suffer immensely. Wild Oats has taken
a bold step by avoiding the sale of eggs from caged birds, and we
enthusiastically applaud their efforts to help reduce animal suffering."
Other U.S. companies, such as McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's
have asked their egg suppliers to increase cage space.
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