By Leah Zerbe
Free-range hens might not be as free as you think, but their eggs are a better choice than battery-cage eggs, the type implicated in the massive egg recall. In light of that ongoing egg recall, you’re probably checking your egg cartons more carefully, or at least you should be. Egg recall numbers all seem to point back to an egg producer in Iowa with a history of cruel production practices and violations. But did you know that 95 percent of eggs in this country come from hens confined to cages so tiny they can’t even spread their wings? And scientists have found that these factory-farm conditions cause the risk of salmonella to skyrocket.
A study published earlier this year in the journal Veterinary Record found that the eggs of cage-raised hens had a 7.77 times greater odds of harboring Salmonella bacteria than eggs from non-caged hens. A 2008 Belgium study published in Preventive Veterinary Medicine found a whopping 7.88 to 21.52 times greater odds of Salmonella contamination in operations that caged hens.
If this country is ready to have a serious food-safety discussion, phasing out cages for laying hens would certainly be a good place to start (some states, such as California, Michigan, and Ohio, are already working on that). If cheap, caged eggs freak you out—as they should—you’re likely looking at egg carton labels more closely to find healthier, more humane eggs. Read on to learn about the different meanings behind the claims made on those labels.
Read full post at Rodale Institute