Research by the RSPCA has revealed that almost eight out of ten people in England and Wales (78%) want action taken to stop eggs laid by hens in illegal barren battery cages coming into the UK.

Research by the RSPCA has revealed that almost eight out of ten people in England and Wales (78%) want action taken to stop eggs laid by hens in illegal barren battery cages coming into the UK.
 
78% of people in England and Wales would support a trade ban on illegal eggs.From January 1, 2012, it will be illegal for farmers across Europe to keep hens in conventional barren battery cages.

Farmers in the UK are believed to be prepared for the new law but elsewhere in Europe a large number of producers are not ready – meaning an estimated 84 millions hens will still be kept in cruel cramped cages below even minimum welfare requirements.
 
A YouGov survey about hen welfare has revealed that 78% of people in England and Wales would support a trade ban on illegal eggs and, with just a month to go until the barren battery cage ban, the RSPCA is calling for the “dithering European Commission” to take action.
 
David Bowles, director of communications at the RSPCA, said: “We want quick, decisive action to stop the trade in these illegal eggs as well as rigorous enforcement of the new legislation and tough penalties for those farmers flouting it.”
 
The Welfare of Laying Hens Directive (EU Council Directive 1999/74/EC) outlaws the use of conventional barren battery cages in favour of other systems – barn, free-range, organic or “enriched” cages that give hens a nesting, scratching and perching area and more usable space.
 
Most whole eggs on sale in the UK are laid by British hens so are expected to be perfectly legal however it may be more difficult to trace the origin of any imported liquid egg used as ingredients in products, particularly because some European producers may have a mix of some legal and illegal cages at the same farm.
 
Egg laying hens in a factory farm battery cage.The RSPCA wants the new battery cage legislation to be strictly enforced by EU member states. However, to ensure that eggs laid by hens kept in illegal conditions do not find their ways on to the shelves in the UK, the charity wants to see a trade ban imposed to stop illegal eggs being sold outside the country where they were produced.
 
Alice Clark, senior scientific officer at the RSPCA, said: “Farmers have had 13 years to get rid of their cruel barren battery cages, there really is no excuse for any producer to still be using them after the deadline.
 
“It’s outrageous that next year almost a quarter of all egg production in Europe is expected to come from illegal barren battery cages.”
 
She concluded: “It adds insult to injury that with just a month to go there is no measure in place at a European or member state level to stop these illegal eggs coming into the UK, whole or as ingredients in food such as quiches, ready-meals and cakes.”

 

  • To find out more about the RSPCA campaign against cages, or how to contact politicians to call for a trade ban, visit www.rspca.org.uk/eggs
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