Welfare activists criticise Ben & Jerry's eggs

Ben & Jerry's of Montpelier has been criticised by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) for buying eggs from a company the society says mistreats chickens.

The hens are kept in cages so small the birds can't spread their wings, according to a media release issued by the society.

"The eggs bought by Ben & Jerry's - perhaps as many as 30 million a year - are produced from hens crammed into wire cages where the living space for each animal is smaller than the size of a standard sheet of paper," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "The fact is, there is a cage-free alternative that is available now, and Ben & Jerry's has no excuses for offering up a pint of pain to tens of thousands of animals."

Although it supports the cruel confinement of hens on factory farms for its US ice cream, Ben & Jerry's has already made the switch to cage-free eggs for its European products. The company wrote in an annual report that "battery cage housing systems don't meet our best case scenario for animal welfare".

Founded in 1978 by entrepreneurs Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, Ben & Jerry's mission includes "a continued commitment to incorporating wholesome, natural ingredients and promoting business practices that respect the Earth and the environment", its Web site says.

The company was bought by the Dutch conglomerate Unilever in 2000.

Ben & Jerry's said it was reviewing its egg-buying options.

Editor WorldPoultry

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